Buenos Aires | Home favourite reaches YOG Boys Final
Argentine fans will have a local favourite to cheer on for the gold medal match at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires on Saturday.
Facundo Diaz Acosta, the No 8 seed, took out Bulgaria’s 6th-seeded Adrian Andreev, 6-4 6-1, and is hoping home support can help to raise his game to another level.
“Playing for your country gives you more energy when you know that you have the whole country supporting you,” he explained.
“Before the match I was very nervous because I could win or lose and that would leave me with nothing.”
Diaz Acosta will face No 3 seed Hugo Gaston for the gold medal, after the Frenchman defeated No 7 seed Gilbert Soares Klier Junior of Brazil by the same score, 6-4 6-1.
Gaston has been flying under the radar at YOG, scoring his fourth consecutive straight-sets win at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club.
“We both played a very good first set,” said Gaston. “And in the second set I continued to play good and he played a little bit less aggressive.”
Gaston he is not fazed by playing the home favourite in the boys’ final.
“It’s cool for him,” he added. “I am very excited to play the final. I want the gold medal but it will be a very tough match.”
When asked what Diaz Acosta knew about his opponent in Saturday’s final he said: “He’s a left-hander, he’s very solid, he fights for every ball and I am going to have to play at a very high level and be at my best if I am to win.”
The boys’ bronze medal match will feature Soares Klier Junior against Andreev.
The Brazilian was understandably disappointed with his performance, having also lost in the mixed doubles on Thursday, but he remains focussed on finishing on the podium on Saturday.
“Just to stand on the podium is amazing,” said Soares Klier Junior. “I will fight to win this.”
The girls quarter-final match between No 6 seed Maria Osorio Serrano and unseeded Yuki Naito of Japan was tight in the first set, but the Colombian took control, posting a 6-7(5) 6-3 6-1 victory.
Osorio Serrano will face No 7 seed Clara Burel in the semi-finals, after the Frenchwoman surprised the 3rd-seeded Iga Swiatek of Poland, 6-4 6-2.
Swiatek had beaten Burel in the round of 16 in both the French Open and Wimbledon this year, in straight sets, so the scoreline, if not the result, was certainly unexpected.
“I was so excited in the last game but I tried to stay focussed,” Burel said.
“It would be a big thing for me to bring a gold medal home. I will try to do my best and we will see tomorrow.”
Burel and Osorio Serrano met in the semi-finals of the US Open last month, with the Frenchwoman winning 7-6 in the third, so that could be a great match.
Osorio Serrano overcame a first set deficit against Japan’s Yuki Naito in the first match on Centre Court to win, 6-7(5) 6-3 6-1.
“It was a very difficult match but I enjoyed it, the change in rhythm, hitting slice,” said Osorio Serrano.
“I made the most of the opportunities that she gave me.”
The other girls semi-final will feature No 4 seed Kaja Juvan of Slovenia against the 5th seeded Xinyu Wang of China.
Juvan fought back from a set down to defeat a spirited performance by Russia’s Oksana Selekhmeteva 1-6 7-5 6-3 and book her place in the last four of the girls’ singles.
The Slovenian is bidding farewell to the Juniors after this event in Buenos Aires, and knows she did well to battle to victory against 15-year-old Selekhmeteva.
“She played a really low slice which is really hard to handle in these situations and she got a lot of easy points in the first set,” said Juvan.
“I had to fight to get to the last set and fight until the last point.”
Wang Xinyu, progressed to the last four after Daniela Vismane gave her a walkover.
The two players last met at the ITF Junior Masters in Chengdu in 2017 and it was Juvan who came out on top.
“She’s a really aggressive player, really strong,” explained the Slovenian.
“It’s tough to play against her as you have to be 100 per cent ready because we’re not used to the strong balls. She doesn’t give you easy balls.
“I’ll just go for it. I’m happy with the result already. I got back from an injury so I’m happy that I’m here and I’m happy that I pushed through this match today.”
Wang added: “First I feel bad for her [Daniela Vismane] because she was playing really good this week and she beat Liang [En Shuo] from Taipei in the first round.
“I just feel bad for her. I’m lucky that I got a little bit more time to prepare for the next round.”
When asked if she was looking forward to exacting revenge on Slovenia’s Juvan, Wang added: “I think we are both improving compared with last year.
“She is playing senior tournaments and she is doing good so I hope we can have a good time on court.”
Juvan also defeated Wang en route to last year’s title at the ITF Junior Masters.
The girls’ semi-finals will take place on Friday with play starting at 10:00 local time (13:00 GMT).
No boys or girls doubles were played on Thursday, but eight second round mixed doubles matches moved that draw into the quarter-finals.
It proved to be a memorable day in Buenos Aires for both Clara Burel and Hugo Gaston as the French duo backed up their wins in singles with a mixed doubles triumph against Argentina’s Lourdes Carle and Sebastian Baez amid rainy conditions.
Burel and Gaston battled the tough conditions to win 7-5 4-6 [10-8] despite the match needing to be moved from Centre Court to Court 3 at 4-4 in the match tiebreak due to the inclement conditions.
“I like to play a match like this,” Gaston said. “We are happy. The Argentinean fans are very good.”
The French pair will meet Kaja Juvan and Marko Miladinovic in the next round after the No 5 seeds overcame Sada Nahimana and Phillip Henning 6-2 4-6 [10-8].
Slovenia’s Juvan and France’s Gaston are the only two players who could still win three golds at this year’s Games.
Perhaps the two biggest upsets in the mixed doubles saw Switzerland’s Lulu Sun and Damien Wenger defeat China’s Xinyu Wang and Mu Tao 6-4 3-6 [10-6] and Eleonora Molinaro and Jesper de Jong beat No 4 seeds Elisabetta Cocciaretto and Lorenzo Musetti 4-6 6-2 [12-10] on a day of match tiebreak triumphs.
“We just kept going and believed that we could do some incredible things,” De Jong said.
“The ball on the line at 8-7 was incredible and then we managed to save match points and that was an incredible feeling.”
Switzerland’s Sun put her victory alongside Wenger down to the fact that they have bonded off the court.
“When we both arrived, we immediately started talking together so that we got a good bond and then we also hit together and we talked to our coach.”
Chinese Taipei’s Joanna Garland and Tseng Chun Hsin were the only pair to win in straight sets, while their opponents in the next round, Japan’s Yuki Naito and Naoki Tajima, progressed thanks to a walkover after Iga Swiatek pulled out injured.
No 2 seeds Camila Osorio Serrano and Nicolas Mejia clinched a close match against Wang Xiyu and Dostanbek Tashbulatov 4-6 6-4 [10-8] and they will meet Oksana Selekhmeteva and Carlos Lopez Montagud in the quarter-finals on Friday.