Buenos Aires | Two YOG bronze medals determined
© Sergio Llamera
The Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires is heading towards its finale with the first medalists determined on Friday, Brazil’s Gilbert Soares Klier Junior.
The young South American won boys’ bronze medal when Bulgaria’s Adrian Andreev was forced to retire with an injury while trailing 6-4 3-1, and top seeds Wang Xiyu & Wang Xinyu sealing a bronze medal for China in the girls doubles.
Such are the vagaries of the game, however, that just hours after retiring, Andreev clinched a spot in the boys’ doubles final alongside Australia’s Rinky Hijikata.
Later Andreev explained that his back had been causing him pain during the bronze medal match but, because he did not have to serve as often in the doubles encounter against the French pair, he managed to overcome his injury.
The Bulgarian got off to a great start in the boys singles semi-final, racing into a 4-0 lead before Soares Klier Junior started his comeback, taking 5 games in a row to move ahead when it became clear that Andreev was struggling physically and asked for a medical timeout after the 9th game.
He had hurt his lower back and he couldn’t do much in the rest of the match, losing serve again in the 10th game to hand the set to his rival and retiring after three points in the 5th game of the second to hand the medal to his rival.
“It’s kind of hard to put into words my feeling right now,” said Soares Klier Junior.
“I’m so happy with this bronze medal. To be here in the Olympics, I’m so happy. I’m so excited.
“I don’t have any words. I can’t talk! I will try to win other medals. I don’t know in Tokyo or Paris but I’m so happy for the first one.”
Top seeds Wang Xiyu & Wang Xinyu defeated Lourdes Carle & Camila Osorio Serrano, 7-5 6-3, to take the bronze medal for China in the girls’ doubles on Friday.
The Chinese coped with the pressure of playing on Centre Court at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club against home favourite Carle and her Colombian partner to clinch the second medal of this year’s Youth Olympic Games tennis event.
Wang Xinyu, who will fight for another bronze in singles on Sunday, said: “It’s a very special moment because I think it’s the first and the last time in our lives that we can win an Olympic medal together, so it’s really special for us.”
Her partner and World No 1 Wang Xiyu added: “I think it’s a good experience to play the Youth Olympic Games.
“It’s the first time that I have played this kind of tournament and to win this medal is very good for our country and for us.”
Meanwhile, the No 4 seed, Kaja Juvan of Slovenia and Clara Burel, the No 7 seed from France, have advanced to the gold medal match in the girls singles.
Juvan defeated 5th-seeded Xinyu Wang of China, 6-0 7-5, while Burel toppled No 6 seed Maria Osoria Serrano of Colombia for the second time in two months, 6-4 7-5.
It was a tough battle from start to finish but Burel found the way to prevail in straight sets for the place in her third big final of the season, standing as the runner-up at the Australian Open and the US Open.
“The match was very tough today,” Burel said. “I was very nervous so it was tough but I am so happy to win this match.
“It will be just amazing to have a gold medal but I have to stay focused on my match tomorrow and we will see on the court.”
Winning gold could be the perfect sign-off to Juvan’s junior career and she came to Buenos Aires with just that intention.
“I’m always going for the gold,” she explained.
“I’m always competing to win. The finals will be a special round and there’s going to be a big crowd. I just need to prepare well.”
Juvan raced to a one-set lead in her semi-final against Wang, taking the first set without loss of a game, before allowing her opponent to get a foothold in the second.
With nothing to lose, Wang struck every ball with ferocious power but Juvan seemed to have an answer for her Chinese opponent.
“At the beginning of my Junior career I had a lot of problems with girls who were hitting the ball really strong,” continued Juvan.
“But now that I played some Pro tournaments, I think I’m getting used to it.”
Juvan now just needs one more victory on Sunday to walk away with the coveted gold medal against Burel, having never faced the Frenchwoman before.
The girls’ singles final will take place on Sunday 14 October at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club.
The boys doubles final is now set also, with top seeds Sebastian Baez & Diaz Acosta of Argentina taking on Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria & Rinky Hijikata of Australia.
Andreev & Hijkata eased into the boys’ doubles final after defeating France’s Hugo Gaston & Clement Tabur, 6-1 6-4, on Court 2.
The route to the final for the Bulgarian-Australian duo is even more remarkable given the fact that they were not even due to play with one another and it was only the last-minute withdrawal of Germany’s Rudolph Molleker that brought them together.
“Adrian is a great doubles partner, he’s proved that time and time again, he won the US Open doubles title, it’s been a great week playing with him,” Hijikata said.
“We actually weren’t meant to play together so it’s been a good surprise our first time playing together.
“I think our games gel well together, the conditions suit our style of play and we both like playing for our country a lot.”
Andreev added: “We believe in our game, we have really good energy on the court, we have positive vibes out there, we’re enjoying our time.”
Hijikata cannot wait for the final.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “I like playing on the big occasions, the big stages, that’s what everyone trains hard for, they’re the matches that you want to play.
“The atmos has been unreal in Centre Court, they really get behind the Argentineans, they’re really patriotic over here but we’re both up for the challenge and we’re really looking forward to it.”
Their opponents in the final will be the hometown heroes Sebastian Baez & Facundo Diaz Acosta, who defeated the Czech duo of Ondrej Styler & Dalibor Svrcina, 7-5 1-6 [10-6], to book their place in Sunday’s final.
Baez praised the importance of the home support saying: “The truth is that it was incredible. I think that without the support of the people, these matches that we have played on Centre Court wouldn’t have been the same.”
On Saturday Facundo Diaz Acosta of Argentina and Hugo Gaston of France will play for the boys gold medal while Yuki Naito & Naho Sato of Japan and Juvan & Poland’s Iga Swiatek will play the girls doubles final.
Boys’ bronze medal match:
 Gilbert Soares Klier Junior (BRA) vs  Adrian Andreev (BUL), 6-4 3-1 Ret.
Girls’ semi-final results:
 Clara Burel (FRA) vs  Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (COL), 6-4 7-5
 Kaja Juvan (SLO) vs  Xinyu Wang (CHN), 6-0 7-5