28 May 2017

Rybakina & Popyrin win Trofeo Bonfiglio

News Article

By Sandra Harwitt

Photo: Francesco PanunzioElena Rybakina (RUS) and Iga Swiatek (POL)

There’s something to the idea that if you don’t succeed at something the best course of action is to try, try again.

And that’s exactly what Elena Rybakina of Russia and Alexei Popyrin of Australia have done regarding the Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio tournament. This time around, they both returned to the Milan-based event to find success and go home champions.

The unseeded 17-year-old Rybakina finally captured the title on her third attempt, upsetting eighth seed Iga Swiatek of Poland 16 76 (5) 63 to hoist the trophy.

This marked the third consecutive year that Rybakina has played the Trofeo Bonfiglio and her previous luck was rather dismal. In 2015, she fell in the first round to Federica Bilardo of Italy 76 (3) 61.

Last year, as the eighth seed, Rybakina was upset by qualifier Kaja Juvan of Serbia 36 62 63 in the second round.

Undaunted by the less than pleasant previous experiences in Milan, Rybakina returned as the 69th-ranked junior girl and tore a path through the draw. She started the week by upsetting 12th seed Ellie Douglas of USA 63 46 75 and kept on chugging along. In the third round, Rybakina scalped seventh seed Maria Camila Osorio Serrano of Colombia 76 (3) 63.

This was the second meeting between Rybakina and Swiatek with the latter winning the first encounter in straight sets at the 2016 Canadian Open Junior Championships last summer.

The boys’ tournament went something more close to form with two seeded players vying for the title in the likes of the 14th seeded Popyrin of Australia and 15th-seeded Marko Miladinovic of Serbia.

The title went to the 17-year-old Popyrin, who scored a 64 62 final win in a first meeting against Miladinovic on Sunday, thereby winning his second consecutive title of the month. Popyrin arrived in Milan feeling confident from just capturing the Grade 1 trophy at the Casablanca, Morocco tournament the first week in May.

Similarly to Rybakina, this was not Popyrin’s first visit to the Trofeo Bonfiglio - he’s actually been there three times in the past. He started journeying to Milan in 2014, but lost in the second round of qualifying. In 2015, the Australian did a bit better, but still fell in the third round of qualifying.

Last year, as a direct entry into the tournament. Popyrin reached the third round before being defeated by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in straight sets.

The books are closed on the 58th Trofeo Bonfiglio for 2017 as many of the competitors will be heading towards Paris and playing the Roland Garros juniors. For some, like Rybakina and Popyrin, there will be another visit to Milan where they might get lucky enough to claim the trophy the next time around.