04 Jun 2017

Piros & Kostyuk first round winners at Roland Garros

News Article

By Sandra Harwitt

Photo: Susan MullaneZsombor Piros (HUN)

PARIS - Reigning Australian Open junior champions Zsombor Piros of Hungary and Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine were first-round winners at Roland Garros on Sunday.

Interestingly, they both warmed up for their Australian Open wins by journeying to the tune-up Traralgon Junior International finals ahead of arriving at Melbourne Park.

Piros is known for doing magic tricks as a hobby, and on Sunday he needed to channel some of that magic to escape a first-round defeat. In the end, the fourth-seed survived a 46 62 64 battle against Maxence Broville of France.

“It was maybe the toughest match ever on my Grand Slam tour,” Piros said. “I start so bad, my serve doesn’t work and I was in a bit of a panic. I somehow won the match, but I don’t know now how.”

Piros believed that Broville being a Frenchman playing at home was of great assistance to his opponents’ solid performance. In the third set, Piros actually trailed 3-1 before coming around to secure the 2 hour, 3 minute match.

Piros, who unsuccessfully attempted to qualify into Roland Garros juniors last year, had his serve broken on four occasions by Broville - twice in the first set, and once in the remaining two sets.

“I know him and he’s from France and everyone was supporting him,” Piros said. “The crowd helped him. For me, it (the crowd) was nothing, but it was a big motivator for him.”

Piros is playing in his first junior tournament since he captured the Australian Open title with a 46 64 63 final win over Yshai Oliel of Israel. During the past few months, Piros has only been playing pro circuit events. His best results were a quarterfinal and semifinal finish at two Hungarian Futures tournaments last month.

“Oh my God, it was amazing in Australia and it is really good to be at another Grand Slam,” Piros said.

The fourth-seeded Kostyuk, still only 14-years-old, delivered a 63 62 win over Mylene Halemai of France to move into the second round.

Kostyuk admitted that being the reigning Australian Open champion comes along with a downside.

“I am under pressure because even if I don’t win Roland Garros this year I am under pressure because I won the Australian,” Kostyuk said. “Everybody is expecting something incredible from me here. I’m happy I managed to win the match easily and I was quite calm today.”

In a similar fashion to Piros, Roland Garros is the first junior tournament Kostyuk has competed in since winning the Australian Open title in January. She has spent her time playing pro circuit events with her best showing a win at the $25,000 Dunakeszi tournament in Hungary last month.

The two players just off of winning the Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio title - Elena Rybakina of Russia for the girls’ and Alexei Popyrin of Australia for the boys’ - are through their Roland Garros first round matches.

The 11th-seed Rybakina posted a 75 61 win over Anri Nagata of Japan, while the third seed Popyrin won a 61 63 victory over Matias Soto of Chile.

Rybakina, now 15-3 on the season in junior competition, was unseeded when she upset eighth seed Iga Swiatek of Poland to take the Trofeo Bonfiglio title last month.

Popyrin was the 14th seed when he ousted 15th seed Marko Miladinovic of Serbia to score the Trofeo Bonfiglio trophy.

Miladinovic, the sixth seed at Roland Garros, was upset in the first round by Sebastian Korda of USA 63 57 61. Korda’s father, Petr, was a Roland Garros finalist in 1992 - 25 years ago this year - where he lost out on the title to Jim Courier.

The first day of junior action produced a few key upsets.

American Danny Thomas ousted fifth seed Hsu Yu Hsiou of Taipei 61 64, and Australian Blake Ellis bypassed 13th seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina 60 63.

Paula Arias Manjon of Spain upset eighth seed Carson Branstine of Canada 36 63 61, and Wang Xin Yu of China took out ninth seed Olga Danilovic of Serbia 63 62.