Photo: Giorgio MaiozziRudolf Molleker (GER)
PROSTEJOV, CZECH REPUBLIC: Top seeds Germany surged into Saturday’s final following an impressive display in Thursday’s semifinal against Brazil at the ITF World Junior Tennis Finals.
The teams competing for the title and attempting to stave off relegation today have a rest day tomorrow as the teams playing for 5-12th play their final matches on Friday.
If the Germans felt any pressure going into today’s final four match as top seeds, they did not show it. German No. 2 Nicola Kuhn took on Joao Reis in the opening rubber and the European eased through the first set, taking it 62. Reis fought back in the second set but Kuhn proved too strong, sealing a 62 63 victory and put Germany one step closer to the final.
The second rubber saw Rudolf Molleker, who suffered a shock defeat against South American opposition yesterday, take on Thiago Wild, undefeated in the group stage but struggling with a back injury. The match was one-way traffic as Molleker blasted past his Brazilian opponent, winning 60 61 and booking Germany’s place in this weekend’s final.
In the doubles Molleker and Kuhn proved too strong for the Brazilian pair of Reis and Igor Gimenez with the Germans prevailing 61 61.
The first team through to the girls’ final was last year’s runners-up Russia as they eased past unseeded Romania, despite resting their No. 1, Anastasia Potapova who has been struggling with illness.
Tatiana Makarova, who had only contested doubles rubbers before the semifinals, showed that she could ply her trade in the world of singles as well when she defeated Mihaela Lorena Marculescu in the opening rubber of the tie 61 62.
That left Olesya Pervushina, the Russian No. 1 until a few weeks ago, to face Selma Stefania Cadar in the second singles rubber knowing that victory would secure a place in the final.
She blasted her way past her opponent, winning 61 60 to send Russia into their second final in as many years. Makarova and Pervushina then teamed up for the doubles to defeat Cadar and Andreea Priscariu 62 63 and seal a 3-0 victory for the Russians.
Their opponents in the girls’ final will be Ukraine after the Eastern Europeans battled through a tough contest against Australia.
Katarina Zavatska of Ukraine, who had not lost a singles or doubles rubber going into the semifinal, took on Baijing Lin of Australia in the opening rubber. The opening set was a tense affair, with the advantage swinging one way then the other and Lin served for the set at 6-5. She could not convert and the set moved into a tiebreak, which Zavatska claimed 7-3.
There was no stopping the Ukrainian after that and she raced through the second set for a 76(3) 62 victory to give Ukraine one foot in the final. Next up was the clash of the No. 1s which saw Destanee Aiava of Australia face Dayana Yastremska.
Once again the opening set was close and would be decided by a tiebreak. Aiava quickly built a lead and moved 6-5 ahead. Yastermska then held both of her serves to make it 5-6. Aiava then had the opportunity to serve the set out but couldn’t as the Ukrainian levelled at 6-6. Aiava missed her fourth set point of the tiebreak and Yastremska made her pay, taking the set 9-7 in the tiebreak.
The result of the opening set demoralised the Australian and Yastremska capitalised, comfortably taking the second set for a 76(7) 62 victory.
Speaking after the match, Zavatska and Yastremska said “We played very well. It was a hard match, the Australian girls are very strong.” When asked about how different it is to play for your country, Zavatska said “It’s a team. If you lose, it’s not just you that loses, it’s the team”. “It’s your country” added Yastremska.
The last finalist was decided in the final rubber to finish as Canada took on reigning champions Russia. Felix Auger-Aliassime took on Nikolay Vylegzhanin in the opening rubber and he quickly gave Canada the lead, winning 61 62.
Russian No. 1 Alen Avidzba then went into his match with Nicaise Muamba knowing that he needed a win to keep Russian hopes alive. Things started poorly for the European as Muamba breezed through the first set taking it 62 to put the North Americans just one set away from the final.
Avidzba refused to give up and fought back, forcing the second set to a tiebreak which he won 7-5. Then, he clinched a tight third set to secure a 26 76(5) 64 win and send the semifinal into a deciding doubles rubber.
Both Canadian singles players teamed up for the doubles and Avidzba partnered Alexey Zakharov for Russia. It was the Canadians who started the stronger, taking the opening set 63. Once again, the Russians fought back and took the second set 62 ensuring the tie would go down to the final set of the doubles.
There would be no fairy tale for the returning champions however, as the Canadian pair upped their game to seal a 63 26 60 victory and book their place against top seeds Germany in Saturday’s final.
A full list of today’s results can be found here.