07 Jun 2014

Russians rule Roland Garros Juniors competition

News Article

By Sandy Harwitt

Photo: Susan MullaneAndrey Rublev (RUS)

Teens Darya Kasatkina and Andrey Rublev will be going home to Russia with a special souvenir from Paris — the winner’s trophy from the Roland Garros Junior singles competition.

The 17-year-old Kasatkina ended her junior tennis career in style on Saturday afternoon.

As the eighth seed, Kasatkina won her first  — and last — junior Grand Slam trophy with a come-from-behind 67 (5) 62 63 win over top seed Ivana Jorovic of Serbia.

At just 16-years of age and seeded fourth, Rublev posted a 62 75 win over seventh seed Jaume Antoni Munar of Spain to score his first Grand Slam victory as well as the No. 1 combined ranking for junior boys.

All week long Kasatkina’s been talking about being very nervous here, It was very evident that she was putting a great deal of pressure on herself to make her final junior appearance a very special moment.

After the victory, Kasatkina still didn’t seem able to process that she had won the title. And her nerves had yet to calm down.

“No, I’m nervous, too,” she said, giggling and briefly putting her hand over her face. “It’s one of the best days in my life, I think. I will remember it all my life. I’m very happy today, yeah.”

Kasatkina is the fourth Russian girl to win the Roland Garros title and the first since Nadia Petrova in 1998.

At the outset of the 2 hour, 8 minute match, Kasatkina struggled to find her form. She fell behind 4-1 but was able to draw even when Jorovic dropped her serve in the seventh game in which three of the six points, including break point, were double faults. Even then, however, Kasatkina  couldn’t organize the first set in her favor.

By the second set Kasatkina settled in and raced to a 5-1 lead to even the score at one set apiece. And in the third set, she went ahead 4-0, which put her in winning position.

“It was a hard first set,” Kasatkina admitted. “It was 1-4, but I find some moments in the game. When I lost the set, I said to myself, ‘Darya, what are you doing? You must win this Grand Slam; and suddenly I did it.”

For Jorovic, even when she led in the opening set, the match was an uphill battle. Although she possesses a compact and effective serve, the stroke let her down on Saturday as she double faulted 13 times, which proved costly.

Even in the first set that she won, Jorovic was having to fight back from being behind in her own service games. In the first game, she trailed 15-40, in the third game she was behind 0-40, in the fifth game she was behind 15-30, and in the seventh game she surrendered her serve at 30-40.

“I don't know what happened with me, but I gave my best and I won first set,” Jorovic said. “But I just lost my emotion, you know, in the second and third. She deserved to win this time.”

After Rublev secured his passage to the final on Friday, his entire family flew in to watch him play on Saturday: his mother, his father, his grandfather, his sister, his sisters’ friend. Even a number family friends turned up.

“It feels great, because I was like preparing for this tournament for a long time,” said Rublev, of his victory. “I won it, so it feels great.”

Rublev, the first Russian boy to win at Roland Garros since Vladimir Korotkov in 1966, showed off a far more commanding form than the 17-year-old Munar in the one hour, 37 minute match.

“Today I played really good,” Rublev said. “I think my best game was today like the whole tournament.  I served good.  My forehand was so fast and like always going in. My backhand was good also.  I moved really well.  I played really good.”

The two had played for the first time recently in the Trofeo Juan Carlos Ferrero where it was Munar who won and Rublev who came in as the runner-up. Rublev believes he played much better on Saturday than during that initial encounter in April.

“It's different because it's different atmosphere,” Rublev said. “Ferrero, with that I was preparing for these tournaments.” 

In the first set, Rublev set off to a 4-1 lead from which Munar couldn’t recover. The second set offered a much more competitive contest as Munar settled into the match. The second set stayed on serve until the final game where Munar had three game points, but couldn’t hold onto his serve.

“It was difficult,” said Munar, “The opponent was playing really good tennis in the start of the match.  I think I was playing not bad, but some kind of tactics was not so good. (I was) feeling better during the match, and then in the second set I think I had my chances.  He was better and he won.”

The unseeded Romanian duo of 18-year-old Ioana Duca and 17-year-old Ioana Loredana Rosca had broad smiles on their faces after winning the Roland Garros girls’ doubles title with a 61 57 [1 0] upset victory over seventh seeds Catherine Cartan Bellis of USA and Marketa Vondrousova of Czech Republic.

And it wasn’t only that the two young ladies had captured their first career Grand Slam junior title. It was also about their plans for the rest of the afternoon. They’ve been given tickets to watch Roland Garros women’s finalist Simona Halep, a fellow Romanian, play in the women’s final against Maria Sharapova.

“We are really excited and we are cheering for Simona,” Ducu said. “We hope with all our souls that she is going to have the same result as we did today.”

Both players, however, were thrilled with their own doubles victory. Ducu, who is a member of the ITF/Grand Slam Development Fund team to Europe, was also excited about the beautiful bouquet the champions received, saying, “I’m crazy about flowers.”

Of winning the title, Ducu said, “For me it’s very, very exciting because this is my last Grand Slam as a junior. I will start playing more pros. The way I finished the juniors is unbelievable for me.”

For Rosca the win is a window to a hope for the future: “I think it’s incredible and I don’t have words to express how I feel now. It was a really great week for us. We play a lot of doubles and lot’s of time win. I hope in the future that we can win this title together in the seniors.”

And in the boys’ doubles, the French pairing of Benjamin Bonzi and Quentin Halys ended an 18- year drought for the host nation with their 63 63 final victory over Lucas Miedler of Austria and Akira Santillan of Australia for the title.

The unseeded Bonzi and Halys became the first French team to win here since Sebastien Grosjean and Oliver Mutis won the Roland Garros boys’ title in 1996. The last French duo to win a Grand Slam junior boys’ title were Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut, who score the U.S. Open title in 1999.

Bonzi and Halys improved on their Roland Garros doubles performance from last year when they journeyed to the semifinals.

“It’s great,” Hayls said of the win. “Everybody was here; our family, our friends. And we practice a lot here so it’s special. We know the court and we know the feeling so we felt more confident.”