There’s no denying that every player needs to go out on the court and play their matches. That is a given. But there’s always little extras that can help a player in a match. And one of the biggest assists to a player is having a home court advantage.
Unseeded Fiona Ferro of France knows all about playing in front of a crowd that’s predominantly in your favor. That’s what she’s been doing at Roland Garros this week in the junior girls’ competition.
On Tuesday morning as the skies threatened rain, the 17-year-old Ferro reached the round-of-16 with a 61 63 second round victory over Akvile Parazinskaite of Lithuania.
“There were a lot of supporters for me,” Ferro said. “I wasn’t really expecting it because in juniors you don’t normally have so many people watching. It was good today.”
It took 25-minutes to play the first three games of the first set, which happened because Ferro needed 23 points and had to fend off five break points on her serve in the third game. But that third game was a start of a nine game winning streak for Ferro, which put her comfortably at 61 40 in the match.
The past three years at Roland Garros, Ferro’s had tough draws in the girls’ competition.
In 2012, she fell to Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, a junior success story that only two years later is into the Roland Garros women’s semifinal. In 2013, she lost to eventual champion Belinda Bencic, who on Tuesday night will be honored at the official ITF Champions Dinner as the 2013 Junior Girls’ World Champion.
Ferro has two older brothers so the idea of pursuing sports as an activity became paramount. At 7, she tried basketball as well as dance, but didn’t like either so turned her attention to tennis.
This year, Ferro’s mixing up playing in the juniors and some smaller pro events. In January, she reached the final of the Grade 1 Traralgon tournament in Australia.
In her mind, there isn’t much difference between playing the juniors and the lower-level women’s events.
“I think the level is not really different but I think it is more in the head,” Ferro said. “The pros are more consistent and they’re making less errors.”
Ferro’s next challenge is taking on top seed Ivana Jorovic of Serbia in the round-of-16.
While Ferro is looking for her first Grand Slam junior quarterfinal berth, eighth seed Darya Kasatkina is hoping to leave an impressionable final mark of her junior days at this Roland Garros.
The 17-year-old Kasatkina, now in position to at least equal her last year Roland Garros singles quarterfinal showing following a 64 62 win over Zheng Wushuang of China, is admittedly a bit on edge this week. The 2013 Roland Garros quarterfinal is her best junior performance to date.
“I’m a little bit nervous at this tournament because it’s my last junior tournament,” Kasatkina said. “I want to show my best game, that’s why I’m nervous. I want to start playing more pro tournaments to improve my rankings.”
Kasatkina’s won two junior titles — the Grade 2 Yeltsin Cup and the Grade 1 Santa Croce, and reached the semifinal at the Grade A Trofeo Bonifiglio in Milan, Italy a couple of weeks ago.
In the first set, Zheng was at 4-3 on serve when Kasatkina won the final three games of the first set. In the second set, Kasatkina went up 4-2 with two service breaks to establish a winning lead in the match.
Next up for Kasatkina will be Ioana Loredana Rosca of Romania.
This is turning into a sweet 16-year for Stefan Kozlov, who already reached the Australian Open boys’ final this season, He’s continuing to display the promise that tennis insiders identified a number of years ago. And it’s helped him that he’s grown to nearly 5’11’ and possesses a sturdy build.
On Tuesday, Kozlov posted a second straight-set victory — this one a 63 63 second round win over Australian qualifier Akira Santillan — to find himself in the round-of-16 at Roland Garros.
Mature beyond his years, Kozlov is not one to identify his strengths and weaknesses on the court. Instead, he wisely beyond his years skirts the conversation with a perfect response that could have been written by a public relations specialist.
“I think I’ve honestly improved every shot I have, I’m actually feeling more comfortable with every shot,” Kozlov said. “I feel like I’ve improved my weaker shots, but I’m not going to tell you I have any weaknesses. I just think I’ve improved everything and have to improve everything.”
“I felt pretty good,” Kozlov said. “I was a little tight coming out of the gates. He’s really talented and he can play very well, so that was a little bit what I was afraid of.”
Kozlov didn’t want to think about the fact that he’s one of the few Americans still standing here at Roland Garros. Fellow junior, 11th seed Michael Mmoh scored a 57 64 63 second round win over Omar Jasika of Australia to join Kozlov in the round-of-16.
“That really doesn’t matter to me,” Kozlov said. “I can’t control what their doing. I’m just going to see what I can do.”
Kozlov will face 10th seed Duckhee Lee of Korea for a spot in the quarterfinals.
In girls’ action on Tuesday: Marketa Vondrousova of Czech Republic upset second seed Catherine Cartan Bellis of USA 60 64 to reach the quarterfinals, top seed Ivana Jorovic of Serbia defeated Usue Maitane Arconada of USA 76 62 to reach the round-of-16, and fourth seed Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov of Spain defeated qualifier Julia Grabher of Austria 75 63.
In boys’ action on Tuesday: Second seed Orlando Luz of Brazil, fifth seed Quentin Halys of France and ninth seed Johan Sebastien Tatlot of France all reached the quarterfinals. Luz defeated 16th seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia 61 63, Halys defeated Lucas Miedler of Austria 36 75 61, and Tatlot defeated eighth seed Naoki Nakagawa of Japan 62, 62.