Photo: Corinne DubreuilAntonia Lottner (GER)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: When you’re trying to make the transition to the seniors it can be difficult to come back into the junior ranks but Germany’s Antonia Lottner and Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit are doing a good job so far at the Australian Open.
On Monday, the pair booked their places in round three with tougher than expected victories. Fourth seed Lottner battled past Australia’s Sara Tomic, the younger sister of Bernard, 61 26 63 while Kontaveit, seeded 10th, came through a tough first set before clinching a 76 60 win over Natalia Vajdova of Slovakia, who is the daughter of Marian Vajda, Novak Djokovic's coach.
Both Lottner and Kontaveit have gone close to Grand Slam glory before – Lottner reaching the semifinals at the French Open and US Open last year and Kontaveit going even closer, losing out in the final in New York.
One year older than Lottner at 17, Kontaveit has already worked her way inside the world’s top 400 in the WTA rankings and is focusing on playing on the professional Tour. But having had a near miss in 2012, and reached the semi-finals in Paris and at Wimbledon, she is desperate to win a grand slam this year.
“I would really love to and I’m going to do everything I can to win a grand slam,” she said. “It’s a huge effort, obviously, and there are young ones coming up, again, like always but I’ll definitely try and give my best to win one.”
Kontaveit spent three weeks of the winter training in Miami, alongside the likes of Maria Sharapova and Heather Watson and said she had learnt a lot from just watching the way they go about their business. “It was amazing to see them hit and have a look at their practice,” she said. “Seeing how intense their practices are, I have a lot to learn from them, definitely.”
“Women play a little bit different than juniors. You don’t get any free points in women’s and they’re really tough. They read the game so well and they’re out there for every point. That’s what you need to get used to and it takes a little time.”
The 16-year-old Lottner, ranked No. 796 in the seniors, had to cope with Tomic and the barracking of the home crowd but came through in the final set to take her place in round three.
“I was a bit nervous because in my first round I was a bit tight and then she’s Australian and she’s the sister of Bernard, so it was really hard,” Lottner said. “She was playing really well but I won, so it’s good.
“It’s really difficult (when the crowd is partisan) but I was trying not to focus on it, I was trying to think, OK, they’re cheering for me, just take it positive. It’s so nice she gets the support, in Germany it’s not like that.”
Now in her second year of junior grand slams, Lottner said she was learning to deal with the pressure. “I think it’s different this time because I played already three grand slams and now I’m seeded,” she said. “Of course I want to win one and I think I can do it, and I will try.
“There is a lot of pressure but I’m trying not to think about it and stay positive. If I put pressure on myself I won’t play good. I saw that in the first round.”
Third seed Ana Konjuh continued her smooth progress with a 76 62 win over Mami Adachi of Japan but sixth seed Carol Zhao of Canada was upset 63 61 by France’s Fiona Ferro.
In the boys’ event there was a big scare for Nikola Milojevic, the top seed from Serbia, who scraped through to round three with a 62 16 86 win over Australian Oliver Anderson.