23 Sep 2017

USA to face Japan in Junior Fed Cup Final

News Article

By Tom Moran

Photo: Srdjan StevanovicYuki Naito/Naho Sato (JPN)

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY: USA and Japan both battled through deciding doubles rubbers to win their semifinals and book their places in the 2017 Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Final on Sunday.

The Americans bounced back from losing the first rubber against Canada to win 2-1, while Japan won an attritional deciding doubles rubber after Marta Kostyuk had hauled Ukraine back into the tie in the second singles rubber.

Erik Kortland's American team, who are top seeds at this event, will now aim to end a losing run in Junior Fed Cup Finals, having lost decisive doubles rubbers in the title match in each of the last two years - to Czech Republic in 2015 and to Poland in 2016.

Surprise semifinalist Canada started the stronger in blustery conditions at the Hungarian National Tennis Centre, with Leylah Annie Fernandez recording an upset victory over Caty McNally, getting the better of two tight sets to win 64 75 and give the Canadians an unlikely lead.

But Roland Garros girls' singles champion Whitney Osuigwe levelled the tie with a 64 62 triumph against Layne Sleeth, and the Americans paired up to record an ultimately comfortable 63 75 victory over Fernandez and Sleeth in the doubles.

"Today's conditions were really hard, and I'm really happy that we could fight through and we're in the Final," McNally said afterwards. "We're going to do everything we can now."

Japan reached the first Junior Fed Cup Final in its history after a battling performance against Ukraine in the other semifinal, with Yuki Naito and Naho Sato emerging victorious in tense deciding doubles rubber on Court 11.

Sato blew a match point in the second set tiebreak but the pair responded well in the match tiebreak to win 75 67(6) 10-3 and give themselves a chance at lifting the trophy for the first time.

Earlier, Sato fought back from a set down against Daria Snigur to win 36 64 61, but Kostyuk defeated Naito 63 64 to level the tie.

The doubles - the last match of the day to be completed at the venue - was tense throughout, but Kostyuk and Alina Tsyurpalevych could not sustain the momentum gained from winning the second set tiebreak, while the Japanese pair maintained their composure to clinch the tie.

"I'm so happy to win today, because Marta Kostyuk is Top 5 in the world," Naito said later. "I lost singles but we could in doubles and I'm so proud we did."

The key to their success? "Japanese fighting spirit," Naito laughed.