Photo: Corinne DubreuilBorna Coric (CRO)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: Speed was the order of the day in the junior events at the Australian Open on Wednesday as many of the favourites hurried into the quarter-finals in double-quick fashion. Katerina Siniakova (CZE), Ana Konjuh (CRO), Gianluigi Quinzi (ITA) and Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) all stormed through to the last eight in less than an hour, laying down a marker going into the latter stages of the first grand slam event of the year.
Second seed Siniakova needed just 58 minutes to beat Adrijana Lekaj of Croatia 60 63 while another Croatian, third seed Konjuh was even faster, knocking off American 15th seed Alexandra Kiick 60 61 in 44 minutes. Konjuh beat Siniakova to win the Orange Bowl in December and has not dropped a set in reaching the quarter-finals.
Konjuh is one of a number of good Croatian juniors and in the boys’ event, another of their talented group, 11th seed Borna Coric, came through a tough test to beat sixth seed Hyeo Chung of Korea 76 64 and reach his first grand slam quarter-final.
The 16-year-old Coric battled hard for his victory and afterwards praised the effect Croatia’s favourite son, former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic, has had on his development.
“We met last year here in Australia, when I lost in the second round,” said Coric, who now plays unseeded Slovakian Matej Maruscak. “Since last year, he’s been helping me a lot and it means a lot to have someone like him in the box, not at every tournament but at the slams and some other tournaments, I am really thankful.”
Coric joked that seeing Ivanisevic in the stands made him want “to go for a bigger second serve” but said seeing him sitting courtside made him more relaxed. “It means a lot because he’s watching and it makes me feel I want to play better because of that and it makes me more confident.”
While he spends most of his time training in London, Coric sees Ivanisevic when he is back home in Croatia. “When I am in Zagreb, I’m probably hitting with Goran and we’re working on some things I need to improve and he’s giving me a bit of advice on his serve and my volleys. It’s really good, he can help me a lot.”
Coric said having a group of rising young Croatian players on the Tour was a big advantage. “Ana Konjuh is in the quarters and playing really well; (Franko) Miocic lost today but to a very good guy (seventh seed Wayne Montgomery) and we have Adrijana Lekaj. And then we have Donna Vekic, too, who’s already doing well in the women’s. It’s good to have someone to hang out with, someone to support you. We are all good friends and we practise together.”
Top seed Nikola Mioljevic of Serbia, healthy again after struggling with illness in his previous round, beat Austria’s Lucas Miedler 64 62 to set up a clash with Italian Filippo Baldi, the No 8 seed, who saw off Christian Garin of Chile 63 75.
Second seed Quinzi beat 16th seed Hugo Di Feo of Canada 61 64, third seed Nick Krygios was too good for fellow Australian Omar Jasika, winning 64 63 while another home favourite, Kokkinakis, made light work of Enzo Couacaud of France, recording a 62 60 victory.
Girls’ fourth seed Antonia Lottner survived a tight first set to beat Ziyue Sun of China 76 61, while eighth seed Elise Mertens, 10th seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia and unseeded Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia also reached the last eight. But 13th seed Katy Dunne, the only Briton in the girls’ draw, was knocked out 63 64 by unseeded Russian Elizaveta Krejichkova.