French Open | Junior quests open in Paris
The future stars of tomorrow are slugging it out during the second week of the French Open in the junior events.
Former French Open champions Justine Henin, Stan Wawrinka and Martina Hingis all tasted glory in the junior championships on the Parisian clay and this new generation is eager to follow in their footsteps.
Overall, I want to be the best I can be and be the greatest Cori Gauff
Sebastian Korda, the second-seed from the US, is trying to follow in the footsteps of his father and coach Petr, who was a runner-up to Jim Courier in the 1992 men’s Paris final.
Nicknamed ‘Sebi’, the younger Korda started to play tennis when he was eight years old.
His mother, Regina Rajchrtova, also played professional tennis, while his sisters, Jessica and Nelly, are pro golfers.
The 17-year-old Korda, who has mostly been playing on the men’s Challenger circuit since winning the Australian Open title in Melbourne in January, started his quest for his first Roland-Garros junior title with a win against French wild card Valentin Royer, 6-2 7-6(2).
Argentina’s Sebastian Baez entered Roland-Garros on a high, having knocked Korda off the No 1 spot on 28 May after reaching the final of the prestigious Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio event in Milan on clay.
The 17-year-old Baez, who is 21-4 in singles this season, played another of France’s hopes, Mathys Erhard, and was briefly stretched in the first round at Roland-Garros before whitewashing his opponent in the final set to win through, 6-7(9) 6-3 6-0.
The top-seeded Argentine is in the top half of the draw, while Adrian Andreev, the Bulgarian who beat him in the final in Milan, was drawn in the bottom half, meaning the pair can only meet in the final.
In the Boys, Great Britain’s hopes lie with Aidan McHugh, the 13th seed, and unseeded Jack Draper, who both play on Tuesday, while George Loffhagen fought hard in his opener but lost out narrowly to Deney Wassermann from the Netherlands, 4-6 6-4 6-4.
Sunday marked the first day of competition, with US juniors recording nine victories against five losses.
Brandon Nakashima got the worst draw but proved up to the task, defeating No 3 seed Rudolf Molleker of Germany 6-4 4-6 6-3.
Molleker was seeded third based on his ATP ranking of 301, which is primarily the result of his title last month at an ATP Challenger on indoor clay in Heilbronn.
Nakashima, a 16-year-old from San Diego, has limited opportunities to train on clay and last week’s appearance at the Grade 1 in Belgium was the first clay tournament he had played this year.
Molleker was the highest of the six boys seeds to go out and was followed by the 5th seed Hugo Gaston of France, the reigning Orange Bowl champion, who lost to Nick Hardt from the Dominican Republic, 4-6 6-1 6-2.
So did the 10th seed Dalibor Svrcina of the Czech Republic, to Ray Ho from Taipei, 6-3 3-6 6-3, as well as the No 14 seed Juan Cerundolo of Argentina and No 15 Facundo Diaz Acosta of Argentina.
After winning the junior girls championship at the Australian Open, Liang En Shuo is seeking ti make it two in a row for Chinese Taipei.
Having beaten Clara Burel of France 6-3 6-4 in Melbourne, Liang said she was ‘still in a dream’ after winning her first Grand Slam title.
The top-seeded Liang, who was once a keen piano player until her mother chose tennis for her when she six years old, has yet to play American Dalayna Hewitt in her opening round at Roland-Garros.
All ten of the girls seeds in action won through on Sunday, with second-seeded Xinyu Wand from China leading the charge and opening her campaign with a 6-3 7-6(5) win over Russia’s Varvara Gracheva, who was a qualifier.
Cori Gauff may be the youngest player in the girls’ draw at just fourteen years of age, but the American has already set herself a huge goal.
“Overall, I want to be the best I can be and be the greatest,” Gauff told CNN in New York in September after she was beaten in the US Open junior final by fellow American Amanda Anisimova.
The 16th-seeded Gauff, who is guided by Patrick Mouratoglou, the long-time coach of 23-time Grand Slam singles winner Serena Williams, started her campaign for a maiden grand slam title by dispatching Poland’s Stefania Rogozinska Dzik, 6-3 6-0.
The most dominant player on clay this season with five titles on the red dirt, Maria Camila Osorio Serrano comes to Roland-Garros as one of the favourites for the title, seeded No 3.
Coached by former top 50 player Alejandro Falla, the third-seeded Colombian will play Ireland’s Georgia Drummy in the first round on Monday.
Britain’s sole representative in the girls singles, Emma Raducanu, made it safely into round two with a 6-4 6-3 over Maria Timofeeva from Russia.