Photo: Martin SidorjakEvgeniya Levashova (RUS)
PROSTEJOV, CZECH REPUBLIC: Russia got off to the perfect start on the opening day of the World Junior Tennis Finals in Prostejov, winning both of their matches 3-0.
The girls got their tournament underway on centre court against Thailand and started quickly, with Sofya Zhuk defeating Pichayatida Jandaeng 61 63 in a little under an hour. Then it was the turn of their No. 1 player, Evgeniya Levashova who defeated Yinglak Jittakoat 61 64 to give the Russians an unassailable 2-0 lead.
The Russian boys were on a less glamorous court but their result was no less emphatic when they took on Tunisia. Philipp Klimov defeated Mohamed Aziz El Oukaa 61 64 in the opening rubber and, when Tunisia’s No. 1 Youssef Dabbabi retired trailing Artem Dubrivnyy 16 0-4, Russia had their victory.
Both teams won their doubles in straight sets to seal emphatic victories and ensure they would finish the day at the top of their groups.
The tie of the day was as unexpected as it was entertaining. The top seeds in the boys’ competition, Australia, looked to have a simple task ahead of them when they took on the unseeded Czech Republic. Things started well for the Australians when Alex de Minaur defeated Jakub Patyk 61 63, meaning Australia’s No. 1, considered one of the best players at the event, had the chance to seal victory.
However, the hosts had no intention of going down without a fight and Patrik Rikl produced a great performance to defeat Alexei Popyrin 64 06 64. That meant that the tie would come down to a deciding doubles rubber. Australia started the better of the two nations, taking the first set 64, but the Czechs fought back once again to take the second set 62. The Aussies proved too strong in the end, however, and won the deciding set 61.
“We complicated our lives a little bit” said de Minaur when asked about their performance today. The team remain upbeat about their chances though and their confidence is still high.
The Czech girls’ team fared considerably better than their compatriots as they defeated Japan 3-0. Monica Kilnarova got the Czechs off to a good start with a 62 62 victory over Haruna Arakawa. The second match proved to be more difficult for the hosts when Saya Ito took the first set off Marketa Vondrousova 7-5 in the tiebreak. The Czech fought back though and took the following sets 62 61 to clinch the tie for the hosts. Kilnarova and Vondrousova then teamed up to win the doubles in straight sets.
Boys’ eighth seeds, Brazil, had to come from 1-0 down to defeat Italy 2-1 in a tough opening fixture. Nicolas Merzetti produced an excellent performance to defeat Igor Gimenez 60 63 in the opening rubber. Brazil’s Gabriel Decamps levelled the tie following his 62 62 victory over Andrea Trapani before Decamps teamed up with Lucas Cruz to win the deciding doubles rubber.
The two African nations in the girls’ draw, South Africa and Egypt, both had excellent wins on the opening day. Egypt defeated seventh seed Romania 2-1 and South Africa, led by twins Lee and Zani Barnard, defeated South American champion Colombia 3-0.
The best match of the tie between South Africa and Colombia was the second rubber between the teams’ top players, Sofia Munera Sanchez and Lee Barnard. Barnard took the opening set 64 before Munera Sanchez won the second by the same score line. Barnard recovered, however, and took the deciding set 63 in a rubber that lasted almost two and a half hours.
The tie between Egypt and Romania was exciting, with two of the three rubbers going to three sets. When Egypt’s Dalila Said defeated Ioana Guna 76(4) 36 61, an upset was on the cards. Andreea Rosca levelled the tie with a 62 62 victory over Laila El Nimr, forcing the tie to a deciding doubles rubber. All four singles players were involved in the doubles, but it was El Nimr and Said who performed the better of the two pairs, defeating Guna and Rosca 62 36 62 to secure an excellent win for the Egyptians.
In Group 2, Australia’s girls proved too strong for Great Britain, triumphing 3-0. The closest match was the opening rubber which saw Seone Mendez defeat Georgina Axon 75 64 in a little under two hours. Destanee Aiava then overcame Anastasia Mikheeva 64 62 before Mendez partnered Jaimee Fourlis to victory over Axon and Katie Swan.
The other tie in that group also finished 3-0 as USA proved too strong for Italy. Claire Liu and Catherine Bellis easily won their two singles rubbers, 63 60 and 60 61 respectively, to give USA an insurmountable 2-0 lead. Bellis then partnered Michaela Gordon to win a hard-fought doubles rubber 76(2) 63.
The USA boys’ team were forced to come back from 1-0 down to defeat a very spirited Indian side. Alex Solanki produced an excellent performance to defeat Samuele Riffice 75 63 and give India a 1-0 lead. USA No. 1 Gianni Ross then levelled the tie with a 62 61 victory over Nitin Kumar Sinha and force the tie into a deciding doubles rubber. The American team of Riffice and Patrick Kypson defeated Solanki and Sinha 61 63 to ensure USA would have a winning start.
A full round-up of today's matches can be found here.
You can keep up to date with all of the matches through live scores.