Photo: Ron AngleFrancis Tiafoe (USA)
Francis Tiafoe and Varvara Flink become the latest names added to the illustrious list of winners of the Grade A Metropolia Orange Bowl International. Previous winners of the 18 & under category include Jim Courier, Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, John McEnroe, Mary Joe Fernandez, Chris Evert and Caroline Wozniacki so Tiafoe and Flink can be optimistic about following in the footsteps of some of the world's greatest players.
Tiafoe defeated his fellow American Stefan Kozlov 76(3) 06 63 to win his first Grade A title and rise to No. 7 in the ITF Junior Rankings. In claiming the title, he set a new record, becoming the youngest player to win the 18 & under title at just 15 years of age. The record would have been broken regardless of the outcome as it was the first time two 15-year-olds have competed in the final.
The match hinged on a mishit from Tiafoe in the middle of the first set. At 4-1 down, he mishit a shot and the ball looped high in the air, before dropping in. Tiafoe would go on to win the rally, then the game, then break the Kozlov serve to force his way back into the match.
"That mishit was everything," the American said, "he's played a Grade A final before and looked very comfortable. He had a couple of set points and could've won that set.''
Kozlov, who was runner up at the Copa Gerdau this year in Brazil, can console himself with a rise to No. 5 in the rankings following a week where he took out junior world No. 1 Alexander Zverev (GER) in impressive style in the semifinals.
Russia's Varvara Flink was the top seeded girl in this year's Orange Bowl and she lived up to all expectations to claim the girls' title, defeating Ivana Jorovic of Serbia 61 26 64. Her victory was the first for a Russian girl in this event since Vera Dushevina won in 2002.
Jorovic had won the only previous meeting between these two players when they met in the final of the Grade A Osaka Mayor's Cup in October, the Serbian winning that one 61 64, but Flink proved too strong in this meeting and gained her revenge.
Flink, who reached the semifinals of the prestigious Eddie Herr International Junior Championships last week, adds the title to the Grade A title she won at the Copa Gerdau and now moves to No. 3 in the rankings. Having celebrated her birthday on Friday the Russian was pleased with the title, "Absolutely, this is really nice present.''
In the girls' doubles final, the fifth-seeded pair of American Tornado Black and Australian Naiktha Bains defeated Americans Sonya Kenin and Kaitlyn McCarthy 60 61 whilst Filippo Baldi from Italy and Lucas Miedler from Austria sprung a surprise beating the top seeded pair of Andrey Rublev (RUS) and Zverev 63 67(6) [10-8].