The Abierto Juvenil Mexicano opened another chapter in its history on Saturday when it crowned two new singles champions. It also marked a moment of personal history for both girls’ winner Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and boys’ conqueror Nikola Milojevic of Serbia,
who each picked up debut Grade A titles.
Milojevic, who arrived in Mexico City on 17 December to gain extra practice ahead of the event, put all that preparation to good use through the week. He capped off a string of dominant performances on the clay-courts of the Club Deportivo Chapultepec in Mexico
City with a 60 63 win over Naoki Nakagawa of Japan.
"I feel fortunate to participate in this wonderful tournament, because since last year my dream has been to win here,” said 17-year-old Milojevic, who is from Belgrade. “For me it is a pleasure to play in Mexico, I liked the warmth of the people, I liked the tennis, the organisation. I take great memories of Mexico, thanks to this tournament.”
Milojevic’s win should give his confidence a big boost ahead of the first junior Grand Slam of the season, the Australian Open, which begins on 19 January on the Plexicushion courts of Melbourne Park. Milojevic will join other leading lights of the ITF Junior Circuit in the draw there, including Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy, home favourite Nick Kyrgios, Frederico Ferreira Silva of Portugal and his countryman Laslo Djere.
Fifteen-year-old Bencic was the outstanding player of the week in the girls event in Mexico and her run to the trophy included two 60 60 ‘double bagel’ wins, but she did not have things all her own way during a battling 64 62 final victory over Ching-Wen Hsu of Chinese Taipei.
“I'm happy to be crowned in the Mexican Junior Open at 15 years old, because coming here my goal was always to win the title,” said Bencic, who comes from Flawil, Switzerland. “It wasn’t easy in the final, playing against Hsu, it was very hard, but at the end I came out with the win. Every opponent is tough, especially if I have not fully accustomed to the altitude, I had to watch my game and concentrate hard.”
Bencic received plenty of applause in the main stadium court when she lifted the trophy and was also given a traditional Mexican ‘charro’ hat as a memento. She spoke warmly of her time in the Mexican capital. “I really enjoyed the city, the weather is very warm, the organisation was absolutely amazing and the club is very nice, the courts are excellent," said Bencic. "All week I played really well.”
Her first Grade A singles title at Junior level came after a successful year for Bencic, who also won back-to-back women’s $10,000 ITF Pro Circuit titles in Egypt in September and made her Fed Cup by BNP Paribas debut for Switzerland in 2012. She told reporters in Mexico City that she planned to return to her training base in Florida ahead of heading Down Under to join some of the biggest names in ITF Junior Tennis at the Australian Open.
"I’m planning to train and prepare hard for my next few tournaments,” said Bencic. “I’m going step by step in my tennis career and trying not to put too much pressure on myself. “I need to keep winning and be consistent. I need to stay concentrated on my goals.”