Photo: Susan MullaneMarc Polmans (AUS)
There was a battle royal on the stadium court at the Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Finals on Thursday when the fourth seeds USA went up against sixth seeds Australia.
When it was all over it was the Australians who ruled the day by taking a 2-1 win. The result leaves the Australians 3-0 after three ties and the Group C nation with direct path into the semifinals. The USA ends the round-robin with a 2-1 score.
If they sold tickets to this event fans would have walked away very satisfied from the contest between the two Grand Slam nations. Although all the players involved are 16-and-under, the Australians and USA played as if they were seasoned pros. As it was the tie drew a nice-sized audience from around La Loma as word spread quickly that there was quite a contest going on.
In the first match between Oliver Anderson of Australia and Henrik Wiersholm, the Australian drew blood first when he broke serve on the fourth game of the first set -- it was an 18-point game that Wiersholm lost on his second double-fault of the game. However, Anderson did not hold on to the lead, surrendering his serve in the next game. From 3-3, Anderson won the next three games to take the set.
In the second set, Anderson raced to a 5-2 lead before surrendering his serve for the only time in the set, but went on to close Wiersholm down with a 63 63 win.
Next up, was without a doubt the match of the day -- if not, the match of the tournament thus far. American Stefan Kozlov, a 15-year-old with a tennis mentality of a grown-up, took on Akira Santillan. Kozlov for an eventual 76(5) 46 63 win for USA that took two hours, 42 minutes to secure.
Kozlov bolted to a 4-0 lead, but then watched the lead evaporate, forcing him to shut Santillan down in the tiebreak. But the Australian was not deterred and took the one break in the seventh game to split sets.
By the third set, Kozlov needed a trainer on the court to massage a sore knee and arm. And worried about the possibility of cramping he started to overload on bananas, energy bars and drinks to the point they made him sick, leaving him to vomit over the side fence. But he persevered and prevailed.
In the tight doubles match, the team of Marc Polmans and Anderson just edged out Wiersholm and Tommy Paul 76(5) 75 to hand the USA their only loss in three ties played.
In the big upset of the day, seventh-seeded Spain posted a 2-1 win over top-seeded Russia. Andrey Rublev won the first match for Russia 67(7) 61 76(4) over Pedro Martinez Portero, but the Russian lead vanished. Jaume Antoni Munar Clar defeated Roman Safiullin of Russia 61 62, and in the doubles, Martinez Portero and Munar Clar won a 46 63 64 battle over Rublev and Evgeny Tyurnev. The loss leaves the top seeded Russians at 2-1 after the round-robin and Spain to win Group A with a 3-0 score and direct entry into the semifinals.
In another upset of the day, unseeded France defeated the eighth-seeded Peru 2-1.
Second-seeded Korea never lost a match in all three ties they played, including against South Africa on Thursday. Third-seeded Germany claimed a 2-1 win over fifth-seeded Japan. Norway won their first tie of the competition with a 2-1 win over Mexico. The Netherlands 2-1 loss to Bolivia left them losing all three of the ties they have played and India scored a 2-1 win over Argentina.
The four teams going straight to Saturday’s semifinals are: Spain, Germany, Australia and Korea, who all ended the round-robins with 3-0 records. The final standings for the groups are as follows:
Friday’s Junior Davis Cup matches feature
5-8th place play-offs
Russia v Japan
USA v France
9-12th place play-offs
India v Norway
Bolivia v South Africa