The Youth Olympic Games Tennis Event kicked off the girls singles with two major upsets in Buenos Aires on Monday.
Top seed Xiyu Wang of China, the US Open girls champion, and Australian Open girls champion En-Shuo Liang of Taiwan, the No 2 seed, both lost their opening round matches in shock defeats.
Japan’s Yuki Naito took out the World No 1, 7-6(3) 7-5, and was ecstatic after the match, but it was her opponent who praised the Japanese the most, saying: “I think she played very well and she made me play without time. I was a little bit rushed and I didn’t have a lot of patience.”
Latvia’s Daniela Vismane defeated Liang, 7-5 6-2, using her previous experience against the Taiwanese to greater effect and effectively blowing the girls draw wide open.
“I know how to play against her because I played her in the US Open last year,” said Vismane, who was a member of the International 18 and under Grand Slam Development Fund A team to Europe in 2017.
“I knew it would be tough but I knew what I had to do and I just did it.”
Colombia’s Camila Osorio Serrano won the opening match on Centre Court at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club on Monday as she coped with the pressure of playing home favourite Lourdes Carle.
She overcame the Argentine, 7-6(4) 7-5, and next plays Italy’s Elisabetta Cocciaretto, a 6-2 6-4 winner over Margaryta Bilokin from the Ukraine.
“It was a very difficult match, Lourdes [Carle] is a great fighter, I tried to use my forehand as much as possible,” Osorio Serrano said.
“I had to be mentally very strong because the whole stadium was supporting Lourdes and Argentina.”
There were also wins on day two for new favourites Iga Swiatek, the 3rd seed who was the flag bearer for Poland at Saturday’s Opening Ceremony, and Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan, the No 4 seed .
Juvan, who plies her trade on the Pro Circuit these days and will be bidding farewell to the Juniors circuit after Buenos Sires 2018, said: “I think it’s a great way to say goodbye to the whole Junior period of my career.
“There was a DJ last night, which is kind of different from tournaments that I go to!”
Despite the loss of the top seed, China still holds hopes of a medal in singles after Wang Xinyu came through unscathed against Viktoryia Kanapatskaya.
The Chinese No 5 seed is enjoying her first trip to Argentina: “I really like this city and I think the tournament is really well organised.
“Everybody here is just so happy all the time!”
Both American girls lost their opening round matches as Lea Ma fell to Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia, 4-6 6-2 6-1, and No 8 seed Alexa Noel was beaten by Diane Parry of France, 7-6(4) 6-3.
The first round of the boys’ doubles also got underway on Monday with the loss of the 4th seeds, including Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti, whose YOG experience went from bad to worse after he fell in the opening round of the singles and then also lost in the first round of the doubles.
Musetti and his partner from Turkey, Yanki Erel, were defeated 6-4 6-2 by the Czech pair of Ondrej Styler and Dalibor Svrcina.
Argentine top seeds Sebastian Baez and Facundo Diaz Acosta, however, got their campaign off to a flying start with a 7-5 6-2 over Ray Ho and Chun Hsin Tseng from Taipei, while the Colombian-Brazilian duo of Nicolas Mejia and Gilbert Soares Klier Junior, the No 2 seeds, dispatched Americans Drew Baird and Tristan Boyer, 6-3 7-6(6).
Play continues on Tuesday with the second round of the boys singles and girls’ doubles and the first round of mixed doubles.