Photo: Susan MullaneNick Kyrgios (AUS)
World no.1s Nick Kyrgios and Belinda Bencic confirmed their status as favourites for the Wimbledon Junior Championships which get underway tomorrow by winning the Grade 1 Aegon Junior International.
Bencic, of Switzerland, is unbeaten so far in 2013 and the Roland Garros champion extended her winning streak to 28 matches by dominating Belarussian Iryna Shymanovich in the final at Roehampton. Bencic faces British wild card Freya Christie in the first round at Wimbledon with the winner to play a qualifier in round two. Shymanovich has a tough first round encounter with 2012 Junior World Champion Taylor Townsend of USA in the bottom half of the draw, which also features second seeded Australian Open winner Ana Konjuh of Croatia. Roehampton semifinalist Harriet Dart could be a dangerous floater in the draw and a tricky second round opponent for Konjuh, who did not play a grass-court event but instead warmed up for Wimbledon by winning a $25,000 clay-court tournament in France.
Other girls in with a chance of claiming their first Grand Slam title are third seed Katerina Siniakova of Czech Republic, runner-up at the Australian Open in January, and 13th seeded Estonian Anett Kontaveit, runner-up at last year’s US Open and a semifinalist at Wimbledon 2012 where she beat Konjuh in the last eight.
In the boys’ event, Australian Kyrgios is overwhelming favourite after a 2013 which has seen him compile a 13-1 record in juniors and come close to breaking the top 200 of the ATP rankings. Kyrgios has not dropped a set in any of his 13 victories this year and the Australian Open champion dominated the Aegon Junior International with a straight sets win over Germany’s Alexander Zverev in the final.
Kyrgios’s only junior defeat of 2013 came at Roland Garros at the hands of Karen Khachanov, and the tall Russian also displayed decent form on grass as he reached the quarterfinals at Roehampton. If Kyrgios slips up again there are a host of other boys ready to take advantage, including Roland Garros champion Christian Garin of Chile, world no.2 Nikola Milojevic of Serbia, and Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund, who competed in the senior draw at Wimbledon this week. Also in with a strong chance are sixth seeded Italian Gianluigi Quinzi, who defeated Kyrgios on the way to the semifinals of Wimbledon last year, and world no.3 Zverev, who has an impressive two victories and three runner-up showings in his last six tournaments. A dangerous floater could be Kyrgios’s fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, who reached the Australian Open final but who did not play again until this week due to injury.