Photo: Corinne DubreuilElizaveta Kulichkova (RUS)
The junior finalists were decided at the Australian Open on Friday with Germany’s Alexander Zverev set to take on American Stefan Kozlov for the boys’ trophy and Elizaveta Kulichkova and Jana Fett of Croatia winning through to the girls’ title showdown.
Kulichkova already has one trophy in the bag after she and Anhelina Kalinina of the Ukraine, the top seeds, beat No. 2 seeds Ivana Jorovic of Serbia and Britain’s Katie Boulter 64 62.
“I was really surprised because our quarter-final was 10-8 in the third set,” Kalinina said. “But in the final I was so surprised it was a straight match. We were always up and we were confident.”
In what is likely to be her last junior event, Russia’s Kulichkova saw off Ziyue Sun of China 64 75, reaching the final, 12 months after losing in the semi-finals.
It’s already been a good week for the Russian but one more win would be the icing on the cake.
“Singles and doubles would be perfect, that’s my goal,” the 17-year-old said. “I was feeling not bad, pretty confident. I was holding my serve pretty easy. I think it was a good win, maybe I could have made it easier but she was playing good.”
Fett kept alive the possibility of a second straight Croatian winner in as she survived a few wobbles late on to beat Australian Kimberly Birrell 60 64 and reach her first grand slam final.
“I was getting a little tired at the end,” said Fett, who is hoping to emulate Ana Konjuh by taking the title. “It was windy and difficult and then I was tired but I think I did well to get through it in the end. I’m very happy to be in the final.”
In the boys’ final, Zverev and Kozlov will square off for the title after both came through three-set semi-finals.
Top seed Zverev beat Brad Mousley of Australia 64 16 61 to reach his second grand slam final, having finished runner-up at the French Open last year.
“I think it’s going to be a big opportunity for me,” the German said. “I was in the finals once before, in Paris, and the semi-finals in the US Open but never won a grand slam.
“In the first final in Paris I was really nervous. But I know Kozlov so I hope I can just look forward to it and take my experience with me.”
At 15, Kozlov has been tipped as a future star of American tennis and for the third time in the tournament, he battled his way through a tough three-setter, edging out Quentin Halys of France 26 76 63.
“The first two matches were really tough and after that the next two matches were pretty quick so that helped a lot and now I’m feeling alright to play tomorrow,” Kozlov said.
“It was a pretty tough match, really windy and I was a little mentally down in the first set. I just kept competing. It’s very exciting, I’m really pumped, hope I can play well.”
Kozlov has won all of his previous meetings with Zverev and said the start of the match would be crucial to its outcome.
The boys’ doubles title went to Austria’s Lucas Miedler and Mousley, who made up for his singles defeat by winning the doubles title for the second year in a row, beating Halys and Johan Sebastien Tatlot of France 64 63.
“It’s been a good week for me, making semis of singles as well,” Mousley said. “I’m a little disappointed at how it ended up because I was playing pretty good out there and couldn’t get it done in the end. It just made my day a lot better going out there and winning doubles.”
Twelve months ago, Miedler was on the wrong end of a defeat in the final against Mousley and said he was delighted they had teamed up. “If you can’t beat him, just play with him,” he said.
“It’s so much fun with Brad, the style of play is good, being aggressive and serve-volleying. We played five tournaments together, won four and one final.”