Tornado Alicia Black (USA) at the Junior US Open
Down to the U.S. Open junior singles finale it turns out that two unseeded players have found the necessary form to advance to Sunday’s championship matches.
In the girls’ competiton, Tornado Alicia Black, a 15-year-old American playing compliments of a wildcard, is a surprise finalist after beating seventh-seeded Antonia Lottner of Germany 75 63 in the semifinals on Saturday. Black is the third straight American girl, and fourth in six years, to reach the girls’ U.S. Open final. Now she has to hope that luck will stay with the USA as Americans Samantha Crawford (2012), Grace Min (2011) and Coco Vandeweghe (2008) all won the title.
Black will have to upset second-seeded Ana Konjuh of Croatia if she’s to keep the girls’ trophy here in the USA. The 16-year-old Konjuh, the reigning Australian Open champion, took care of 11th-seeded Mayo Hibi of Japan 63 63 in the other girls’ semifinal.
In the boys’ draw, Thanasi Kokkinakis ousted third-seeded Christian Garin of Chile, the reigning Roland Garros champion, 46 63 64 in the semifinals. The 17-year-old Kokkinakis, who reached the Australian Open final earlier in the season but then was sidelined for six months with a bad back, also upset the reigning Wimbledon champion Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy in the quarterfinals.
“I kind of knew I belonged since January when I made the (Australian Open) final, to be honest,” Kokkinakis said. “I’ve been injured and that’s been frustrating. It’s definitely a good feeling to beat the Wimbledon and Roland Garros champions back-to-back.”
Kokkinakis will take on fourth-seeded Borna Coric of Croatia in the final, which will be a repeat of their Australian semifinal match this year, which the Australian won. Coric ended top-seeded Alexander Zverev’s hopes of a U.S. Open title in a tough 46 63 60 semifinal.
“This is a very good experience and this is very probably my last (junior) tournament,” said the 16-year-old Coric, who texted fellow Croatian Goran Ivanisevic after his match. “It’s amazing to play the final or win it so I’m very happy. I will go out from the juniors with a very good tournament.”
As for Black, who is only playing in her second Grand Slam junior event, it’s her competitive spirit that sees her through matches that technically she isn’t expected to win. The words giving up are just not in her vocabulary.
“I’ve been training really hard and I’ve always wanted to be in any Slam final,” Black said. “It’s a really cool thing. I like to fight a lot in matches.”
Lottner was serving for the first set at 5-4, but couldn’t capitalize on the advantage, allowing Black to break her serve in the 10th and 12th game to go up by one set.
Lottner seemed back on track with a 2-0 lead in the second set, but couldn’t hold onto the lead. The tenacious Black rebounded, breaking Lottner’s serve in the fourth and sixth games to put herself in position to close out the semifinals.
Konjuh played Black a couple of times last year, including taking a second round win here last year. Although she hasn’t seen Black play this year she’s working on the theory that her final opponent’s made great strides in her game.
“I played really good and I’m improving every day,” Konjuh said. “I’m hoping that tomorrow I’ll play my best tennis and win the tournament.”
The top-seeded duo of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic outlasted third-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain 63 64 to win the girls’ doubles title.
This was the third consecutive Grand Slam junior title they’ve won together this year. They didn’t drop a set in winning the Roland Garros, Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles.
“It’s a great year for me,” Krejikova said. “They are in my bedroom. I have a special place for them and I can see them from my bed. I wake up every morning and they’re still there.”
In a battle between two unseeded teams, Kamil Majchrzak of Poland and Martin Redlicki of USA won the junior boys’ title 63 64 over Quentin Halys of France and Frederico Ferreira Silva of Portugal.
The pairing of the 17-year-old Majchrzak and 18-year-old Redlicki was made to be as Redlicki’s parents came from Poland, and while he was born in Chicago he speaks fluent Polish, which makes it easy for them to converse. They upset the top seeds Borna Coric of Croatia and Stefan Kozlov of USA in the first round.
“There’s no words to describe it,” said Redlicki, of taking the title. “Being at home, winning a Grand Slam just don’t wake me up yet, that’s all I have to say.”