Photo: ITFDiede de Groot (NED)
Alfie Hewett and Carlos Anker, the 2013 boys’ singles finalists, and Austria’s Nicolas Langmann all won two matches apiece on Thursday’s first day of round-robin matches at the Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters in Tarbes, France.
Meanwhile, Dutch defending champion Diede de Groot and Russia’s Viktoriia Lvova secured early wins in the first set of round-robin matches in the girls’ singles.
Sixteen-year-old Briton Hewett, the world No. 1 ranked junior since January 2013, stormed to the first set of his opening Group 1 match against Spain’s Martin de la Puente, but with Hewett struggling to find his length on his strokes de la Puente’s fighting spirit paid dividends in the second set as he put together some impressive points and saved two match points at 5-3.
From there the Spaniard continued his fight back and took the set to a tiebreak, subsequently building a 6-3 lead before Hewett saved two set points. A forehand winner from de la Puente, the world No. 5 ranked junior, gave him the set, but despite his best efforts he could not continue his comeback and Hewett finally wrapped up a 61 67(5) 62 victory before beating American Chris Herman later in the day.
Herman produced an impressive display of winners in his opening match against South Africa’s No. 3 ranked junior Thato Tsomole to quickly take the first set 6 1. Tsomole fought back and showed good versatility in the second set, coming back from 4-1 down to force a decider, but he failed to keep his momentum going and Herman closed out a 61 46 60 victory.
The first day’s boys’ singles Group 1 matches ended with de la Puente coming from 3-1 down in the second set against Tsomole to seal a 63 64 win.
In Group 2, 2013 runner-up Anker struggled early in his match against Spain’s Felix Garcia and didn’t win a point in the first two games. Garcia went on to open up a 4-0 lead before Anker began to find his form to reduce his deficit to 4-3. Two double faults by Anker gave Garcia three break points, but two forced return errors from the Spanish player and a backhand attack that went long brought the game back to deuce.
However, It was not to be for Anker and Garcia won the next two games to move 5-3 ahead before serving out the set as Anker missed a break point opportunity.
Anker improved his consistency in the second set and more unforced errors from Garcia helped the Dutch player take set 6-2. The third set featured some long rallies, with neither player prepared to give the match to their opponent, but after saving two match points Garcia finally succumbed to Anker and Anker wrapped up a 36 62 63 win.
Langmann and South Africa’s Sean de Hilster swapped service breaks in the early stages of their Group 2 contest, with both players returning well and making it difficult for the other to hold serve. However the Austrian finally got the breakthrough he needed to take the opening set and he proceeded to take command of the second en route to recording a 64 61 win.
Langmann registered his second win of the day against Garcia, edging a tough contest 76 64, while Anker made a much better start to his second match of the tournament and beat Hilster 61 60.
De Groot and Lvova earn early wins
There were four No. 1 ranked players in the girls’ singles rankings during the course of 2013 and two of them went head-to-head on the first day of play in Tarbes as defending champion de Groot took on current world No. 1 Mariska Venter of South Africa.
In the event, de Groot made an impressive start to her campaign, displaying a good array of shots as she powered to a 61 61 win over Venter.
Wildcard Lizbeth Soto of Mexico took an early 2-0 lead over Lvova, which the Russian world No. 2 quickly wiped out to level their first at 2-2. Lvova saved three break points en route to establishing a 5 2 lead and although Soto staged a comeback to make it 5-4 she could not sustain her effort and Lvova continued to gather momentum, finally sealing a 64 62 win.
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