Photo: Susan MullaneNick Kyrgios (AUS)
OSAKA, JAPAN: It has been an eventful week at the Mayor’s Cup - World Super Junior Tennis Championships in Osaka, where upsets, illness, injuries, rain and great tennis conspired to create a event full of surprises. As the Grade A hard court tournament heads into its last day, four of the current stars of the ITF Junior Circuit are set to battle it out for the boys’ and girls’ singles titles.
The boys’ final will features the top two seeds of the draw, with Nick Krygios of Australia (1) taking on Japan’s Kaicho Uchida (2) for what would be a first Grade A singles title for either player. In the girls’ final, top seed Katerina Siniakova (CZE) will take on Karin Kennel of Switzerland, seeded fourth.
Seventeen-year-old Krygios is ranked No.5 on the combined rankings and has already enjoyed an impressive year in the Juniors, excelling in both singles and doubles (including winning Junior Roland Garros and Junior Wimbledon titles in the latter discipline with compatriot Andrew Harris). He showed that pedigree in completing an efficient 7-6(5) 6-2 semi-final victory over fourth seed Borna Coric of Croatia.
Coric did at least get a measure of revenge over Krygios in the doubles final, which saw him and British partner Alexander Sendegeya edge out Krygios and fellow Australian Omar Jasika 3-6, 7-6(6), 10-4 in a decisive match tiebreaker to win the title.
Uchida, (aged 18) delivered a decisive 6-3, 6-1 singles semi-final victory over Seong Chan Hong of Korea, whose impressive run through the draw, unseeded, must still count as a significant breakthrough for a player aged only 15 despite his defeat.
Krygios and Uchida have met once before on the ITF Junior Circuit, when they played a compelling Round of 16 match at Wimbledon earlier this year. On that occasion the powerful Krygios prevailed 7-5, 6-2, but that was on grass and he did not have to face an opponent with home advantage. This time around Uchida will have the crowd at Utsubo Tennis Center in Osaka behind him and will be aiming to give the enthusiastic local tennis fans something to cheer about.
In the girls’s singles semi-finals, Siniakova, who is currently ranked 9th on the ITF Junior standings, kept up her composed form of earlier in the week to dispatch Great Britain’s Katy Dunne 6-4, 6-3. Kennel was equally assured in easing past Ayaka Okuno 6-3, 6-4 to set up what will be a first meeting with Siniakova.
Siniakova has already won a Grade A title this season, having picked up the trophy at the clay-court 53rd Trofeo Bonfiglio (also known as the Italian Open) in May and she also won the hard court Grade 2 event in Potchefstroom, South Africa. 17-year-old Kennel has yet to win an ITF Junior Circuit title but she was runner-up on the clay-courts of the Grade 2 Biesterbos Open in July.
Japan enjoyed a home win in the girls’ doubles final when Mami Adachi and Hikari Yamamoto fought their way to a 3-6, 7-5, 10-8 match tiebreak win over Dunne (who endured a tough day of defeats in singles and doubles) and British partner Harriet Dart.