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French Open | British hopes end in Paris juniors

Action in the junior draws continued on Monday at Roland Garros as the first rounds of the boys and girls singles were completed and second round matches started in Paris in which British interest in the event drew to a close.

Brit Aidan McHugh was seeded 13 but met his match in the wild-carded Antoine Cornut-Chauvinc from France, who won through a tight three setter, 6-3 4-6 6-4; while Jack Draper lost to Spain’s Nicolas Alvarez Varona, 6-2 7-6(3), both in the first round.

Britain’s Emma Raducanu did make it into round two, but she could not get past the 5th seed Clara Tauson  and went down 6-2 6-1 in round two.

The youngest player in the girls draw is Cori Gauff, who is armed with a huge serve and a fierce forehand and is on a roll, dropping just seven games in two rounds.

The 16th seeded American used her game to great effect in dispatching Sada Nahimana from Burindi, 6-3 6-1, to reach the last 16.

At just 14 years of age, Gauff, who goes by the name of “Coco”, has already reached a Grand Slam final, signed up with an agent and is supported by Patrick Mouratoglou, the long-time coach of Serena Williams.

“She’s my idol,” Gauff said at the French Open about Williams, the Open era record holder with 23 Grand Slam singles titles.

“I always say I want to be like her and accomplish the things that she has done, but I want to go further, as far as I can go,” she added.

“I don’t want to limit myself to her because I am not Serena and she is not me, either,” said the American, who trains in the US and at the Mouratoglou Academy in France.

Maria Camila Osorio Serrano, the 3rd seed, came through her first round match against Ireland’s Georgia Drummy, 6-3 6-3

Although the Colombian hails from a football-mad family—her grandfather was a member of Colombia’s national football squad for the 1962 World Cup—she chose tennis after begging parents to play sports when at the age of six.

A decade later, Osorio Serrano has become one of Colombia’s most promising young tennis players, rising to a career-high junior ranking of No 6 after winning five tournaments this year.

Still, seeing Serena Williams warming up in the women’s locker room was something else:“I almost cried,” she said, after she easing past the Irish girl. “It’s like, ‘Oh my God, it’s Serena Williams.’ I can’t believe this.”

Osorio Serrano is coached by the former Top 50 player Alejandro Falla.

She credits the Colombian, who is most famous for almost beating Roger Federer in the first round of 2010 Wimbledon, with improving her game.

“He is teaching me a lot, like to be focused on the court, the attitude,” she said, adding Falla has also helped improve her serve and forehand.

It will be a busy year for Osorio Serrano, who is playing the junior Grand Slam events and plans to play the ITF junior Masters and the Youth Olympics, held in October in Buenos Aires.

Just like Gauff, Osorio Serrano has set herself big goals.

“I want to be the No 1 in the world, and win all these Grand Slams.”

America’s No 4 seed Alexa Noel, who won the ITF Grade 1 title in Belgium on Saturday, had a tough draw in Iga Swiatek, who won a $25,000 tournament in Alabama this spring and reached the semi-finals of an $80,000 Pro Circuit event a few weeks later.

While the first set was close, Poland’s Swiatek, who just turned 17 and was out for seven months for ankle surgery, cruised in the second set for a 7-6(7), 6-1 victory, pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the day.

It was a problem-free start, however, for the top-seeded En-Shuo Liang, the reigning Australian Open girls’ champion from Chinese Taipei, who cruised past American Dalayna Hewitt, 6-3 6-1 in her opening round.

Sixth seed Eleonora Molinaro, who has reached the final of all ten tournaments she played this season, winning six titles, including the prestigious Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan last week, overcame a slow start against crafty French wildcard Manon Leonard to win 4-6 6-0 6-2 in her first round of the girls’ singles.

The foundation for the 17-year-old from Luxembourg’s success this season was laid in the last quarter of 2017.

“I worked hard from September to December, so I think that was the key,” said Molinaro, who started to play tennis when her parents took her to a swimming pool that happened to have a tennis court nearby when she was five.

“I grew up in everything: mentally, physically, my game, everything,” said Molinaro, who is guided by two Luxembourg-born players, former world No 41 Claudine Schaul and Mandy Minella.

“My dream is to be first in the world, but I know it’s hard work,” said Molinaro, who is doing her school exams after Roland Garros.

Although she is only 17, Molinaro is a realist who knows her finals streak will end at some stage.

“It’s very hard work to play every week a final,” she said. “I am very happy, but I know it’s not going to continue like that. Just happy at the moment with these results.”

America’s Caty McNally probably had the most dramatic of the day’s matches, beating No 14 seed Lulu Sun of Switzerland 6-7(3) 6-1 7-6(4).

In the boys singles, it was another day, another comeback from a set down by the top-seeded Sebastian Baez of Argentina, who was made to work hard to overcome the challenge of Japan’s Naoki Tajima, 3-6 6-2 6-2 in the second round.

Sebastian Korda, though, had little trouble winning through against Stefan Palosi from Romania in straight sets, 6-1 6-4, to reach the last 16.

Korda, the son of 1992 men’s finalist Petr Korda, is seeded second in Paris after losing his No 1 ranking the week before Roland-Garros to Baez.

The third-seeded Rudolf Molleker, 17, however, was eliminated by Brandon Nakashima of the US in his opener on Monday.

Molleker, a Ukrainian-born German, had jumped 196 spots in the rankings of the men’s ATP World Tour to No 301 after he won his maiden ATP Challenger event in Heilbronn, Germany, last month.

There was a big fist pump as Andrian Andreev overcame France’s Arthur Cazaux, 6-2 7-6(6) after, before Paris, the Bulgarian had taken the Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan, the biggest title of his career.

French wildcard Jaimee Floyd Angele could well prove to be the next Ivo Karlovic, as the 18-year old never dropped serve and fired off eight aces on the way to a 6-3 6-3 win over American Troy Hilderbrand in the first round of the boys’ singles in 61 minutes.

 






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