PROSTEJOV, CZECH REPUBLIC: Both the boys’ and girls’ finals of the ITF World Junior Tennis Finals in Prostejov will be contested between USA and Russia after all four teams won their semifinals.
USA’s boys were the first team to reach the final as they defeated Australia 2-0. The opening rubber of the tie saw Patrick Kypson of the USA take on Australian Alex De Minaur. Kypson won the opening set 62 but De Minaur fought back, taking the second set by the same scoreline. A tense final set was eventually won 63 by Kypson to put USA 1-0 up. Speaking after his match, Kypson said “I’m feeling good, I played a good match and fought hard, so, feeling pretty good.”
The second rubber saw Gianni Ross take on Alexei Popyrin, who had recovered from an injury suffered the day before. The first set was close, with Ross taking it 63, but then Popyrin’s injury began to tell and Ross took full advantage, taking the second set 60 and booking USA’s place in the final.
Due to the heat and the match already having been decided, the decision was made to not play the doubles rubber so as to protect the players from the 38 degree temperatures on court.
Russia made it to the final courtesy of a 2-0 victory over France on centre court. Things did not start well for the Russians, however, as Max Broville won the opening set of the tie for France 60 against Russian Philipp Klimov. Some big serving from Klimov saw him fight his way back into the match and he took the second set 62.
The final set went back and forth and ended up being decided in a tiebreak. It was Klimov who performed better, winning it 7-1 and giving Russia one foot in the final.
Russia got off to a better start in the second rubber when Artem Dubrivnyy won the opening set of his match against Corentin Moutet 61. Moutet found his range in the second set and won it 62 before racing to a 5-2 lead in the third set.
Moutet held match point but missed a crucial volley and, in an instant, Dubrivnyy was back in the match. The Russian won the next four games to go 6-5 up in the set before Moutet held to force a tiebreak.
Dubrivnyy quickly found himself 5-2 up in the tiebreak but Moutet produced some sublime tennis to force his way back to 4-5. The Russian then had two match points at 6-4 which were both saved by the French No. 1 who then moved 7-6 ahead to earn his second match point of the rubber. He missed a difficult cross-court forehand and Dubrivnyy went 8-7 up and converted his third match point to send Russia into the final.
In the girls’ competition, Russia were the first team through to the final when they defeated Canada. Sofya Zhuk got Russia off to a flying start when she won the first set 61 over Canada’s Vanessa Wong. The Canadian fought back in the second set, quickly breaking the Russian’s serve, but she could not maintain that lead and Zhuk recovered the break before taking the second set 75 and giving Russia the lead.
Russian No. 1, Evgeniya Levashova then went into her match with Katherine Sebov knowing that a win would see her nation through to the final. She started strongly, taking the opening set 61, but Sebov fought back to claim the second 64 and force a deciding set. The Canadian came out of the 10 minute break the better of the two players and raced into a 3-0 lead which quickly became 5-2. Levashova was not ready to concede defeat, however, and broke serve twice to force a tiebreak. The two players were inseparable going into the first change of ends with the score at 3-3, but Levashova won the next four points to win the tiebreak 7-3 and book Russia’s place in the final.
“I’m so happy”, Levashova said after her match. When asked about her performance, she said “[In the] third set I played very well, faster”. She admitted to having a few nerves during the second set, but she remains confident for the final.
The tie between USA and the host nation, Czech Republic, was the last tie to finish on Thursday, with the doubles rubber going the distance.
The Czechs got off to the better start when Monica Kilnarova won the first set of the opening rubber in the tie 63 against Michaela Gordon. The American fought back to take the second set 63 forcing the tie into a deciding set. The third set went to a tiebreak and it was Kilnarova who played the better tennis, winning it 7-1 and securing the first point for her team.
Catherine Bellis, the USA’s No. 1 player, knew that she had to win against her Czech counterpart, Marketa Vondrousova, and she won a tough opening set 64. That gave her the confidence she needed to push on in the second set and she levelled the tie with a 64 62 victory, ensuring a deciding doubles rubber.
The doubles was long, two hours 20 minutes in total, with the two teams constantly exchanging breaks. The first set went to a tiebreak, which the left handed Czech duo of Vondrousova and Anna Slovakova won 7-2 to put their nation one set away from the final.
The American pair of Bellis and Claire Liu came roaring back in the second set to take it 62 and level the rubber. This meant that a place in the final came down to one set of doubles tennis. The Americans raced to a 5-3 lead and served for the match only to come up against stubborn Czech resistance. The Czechs then served for the match at 6-5, only to find a rejuvenated American pair and so the doubles moved into a deciding tiebreak.
The Czechs secured an early break of serve to lead 3-1 but soon relinquished it. The game remained level until the Americans broke to serve for the match at 6-5. They made no mistake and sealed their place in the final with a 67(2) 62 76(5) victory. Speaking on their performance after the match, Bellis said “At the times we needed to, I think we played well.”
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.