Photo: Susan MullaneKimmer Coppejans (BEL)
Top seeds Kimmer Coppejans and Taylor Townsend made convincing starts to their US Open title bids on Sunday on what was a good opening day for the favourites in the junior events.
Belgium’s Coppejans, who won the French Open in June, saw off Matteo Donati of Italy 75 62 while American Townsend was too strong for Laura Ucros of Colombia, easing through to the second round with a 63 63 win.
As world No. 1s, both Coppejans and Townsend have to deal with increased expectations but having each won one Grand Slam title already, neither seems to be showing too many signs of nerves, on the outside at least.
“I think it’s a great feeling to be the No. 1 seed,” said Coppejans, who said he had a premonition that he would face Donati in round one before the draw was made. “You will have players who really want to beat the No. 1 seed but you will also have players that when you are up a set and a break, they will think ‘I can’t beat this guy’.
“It has an upside and downside but I am happy to be the No. 1 seed. It doesn’t give me any extra pressure. I just want to play good and try to improve my game every day.”
The left-handed Townsend, who won the Australian Open, had not played since Wimbledon because of illness and a problem with her wisdom teeth but shrugged off any butterflies by beating Ucros in straight sets.
“Actually I was (nervous),” the 16-year-old said. “I’m not even going to lie. I just tried not to show it. I just told myself to stay calm and really focused on holding serve. I just tried to go slow and do my routines.”
Both top seeds have been inspired by the efforts of others; for Coppejans it is former women’s world No. 1 Kim Clijsters, who bowed out of professional tennis this week; for Townsend it is British teenager Laura Robson, who upset two Grand Slam champions to reach the last 16 in the main draw.
“I grew up watching Kim on the television, looking at her winning the Slams and tournaments, being No. 1,” Coppejans said. “It’s an amazing feat and makes you believe that maybe there will be another No. 1, another champion from our little country. It just makes you believe in yourself more.”
Townsend was edged out by Robson in the women’s qualifying event last year and said seeing what the Briton had done this week helped drive her on.
“Playing her last year kind of gave me a gauge of where I am,” she said. “I know that she won Wimbledon. How much she’s improved and how she’s competing, it really shows me what I can do.”
Townsend was wearing a shark tooth on a necklace that she got in Australia and wore throughout as she won her first Grand Slam title. “I don’t know why I didn’t wear it in Paris or at Wimbledon,” she joked.
The other high-ranked seeds in action also moved through to round two, with Yulia Putintseva (2) and Eugenie Bouchard (3) both recording convincing wins. Putintseva, now representing Kazakhstan, thrashed American Gabrielle Andrews 63 60 while Canada’s Bouchard crushed Rebecca Petersen of Sweden 61 61.
Americans Samantha Crawford and Victoria Duval, both of whom made the main draw of the women’s event, also advanced to round two but fifth seed Elizaveta Kulichkova of Russia was beaten 46 63 63 by Ellen Algurin of Sweden.
In the boys’ event, third seed Gianluca Quinzi fended off a tough challenge from American Jared Hiltzik, winning 62 75 while sixth seed Nikola Milojevic was the highest seed to fall, going down 62 61 to Maximilian Marterer of Germany.