Photo: Susan MullaneAnett Kontaveit (EST)
Annett Kontaveit knows what it’s like to get close to winning a Grand Slam title; now the Estonian is determined to finally get her hands on the biggest trophy of them all.
The 18-year-old finished was heartbroken when she lost in the final at the US Open last year. Beaten in the semifinals at Wimbledon 12 months ago, she kick-started her title bid this time with a confident 61 60 win over Sara Tomic in the first round.
Australia’s Tomic is more than two years younger than Kontaveit and her lack of experience was clear as the Estonian, seeded 13, romped to an impressive victory.
Kontaveit has been focusing mostly on the women’s Tour and has climbed to No. 316 in the rankings. This is her last junior event and she is determined to make it count.
“I don’t want to look too far ahead but it would obviously be amazing to win here,” she said. “I’ve been close a few times. But there are a lot of good players and the younger girls are coming, so it’s not going to be easy.”
The likes of Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, who followed up her French Open victory by winning the warm-up event in Roehampton last week, and Ana Konjuh of Croatia, may be the favourites but Kontaveit has the experience. “Bencic and Konjuh are very good but actually I’ve never lost to them, so that’s good,” she said. “I almost feel old, at 18. But I played well today.”
Second seed Konjuh cruised into the second round with a 62 63 win over Akvil Parazinskaite of Lithuania and No. 3 Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic beat Alina Silich of Russia 63 62. But seventh seed Katy Dunne of Great Britain was beaten 62 62 by Iona Ducu of Romania.
In the boys’ event, there was a big scare for French Open champion Christian Garin as he fell a set and a break down to Lee Duck Hee of Korea, the 15-year-old who continues to amaze crowds by playing at a high level despite being deaf. But Garin, tipped for the top by Rafael Nadal, hit back well to win 26 64 62.
“I was really nervous at first and he was playing so well,” Garin said. “But I tried to be more aggressive in the second and third sets and his level dropped. I was playing well by the end.
“I was nervous at the start, because it’s Wimbledon and because it was my first match on grass this year. I had an injury for two weeks after the French Open and I have been playing on clay all year, so it wasn’t easy.
“But I really like it on grass and Wimbledon is my favourite tournament. It is an honour to be here. I know Rafa said a lot of nice things about me and I am going to try to do well here, but I know it won’t be easy.”
Eighth seed Borna Coric of Croatia made a convincing start as he beat Naoki Nakagawa of Japan 75 64 while fourth seed Laslo Djere of Serbia saw off Britain’s Cameron Norrie 62 26 63.
But 16th seed Wayne Montgomery of South Africa was taken out 63 63 by Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia.
Top seeds Nick Krygios of Australia and Bencic begin their title campaigns on Monday. Both won in Roehampton last week and Bencic has won 29 straight junior matches.