Britain’s Anton Matusevich was knocked out, 6-3 6-3, by Japanese 8th seed Shintaro Mochizuki in the quarter-finals of the Junior Boys Singles at Wimbledon on Thursday.
The last Briton standing in the juniors on Day 10 had not endeared himself taking out the top seed Holger Rune on Wednesday, when Arthur Fery and Matilda Mutavdzic both lost in the last 16.
Matusevich high-fived his friends, who were court side, before shaking hands with the unimpressed Dane.
“They are my mates, I am quite an out-there guy — there are loads of examples in tennis players who are within themselves,” said the 18-year-old.
“I like to show emotions, positive and maybe at times negative. I was getting pumped up. I think he was just pretty upset. Maybe now there will be a rivalry.”
Matusevich compounded the situation by later adding: “The guy has no life.”
Last year the grade 7 pianist declared that he was his own idol, but has since named his grandfather, the mathematician Leonhard Euler, and the composer Johann Sebastian Bach as his inspirations.
He was unable to emulate his success, however, the following day out on No 3 Court in his quarter-final encounter with Mochizuki, who reached the semi-finals in the juniors at Roland Garros in early June.
Matusevich has admitted he occasionally stops trying if he finds himself 40-0 down in a return game, saving his energy for the next one but, having lost the first and finding himself 1-4 down in the second, he managed to recover 2 breaks of serve off the Japanese with some fine play.
While he had his chances to pocket the second set, some loose play allowed the Japanese back in and he went down after just 55 minutes on court.
He will now turn his attention to men’s tennis, with plans to play two 25k events in the next couple of weeks.
“I think I am playing two tournaments in the next few weeks, then get to grind the men’s tour,’ he said. “It is just more professional, you have guys who fight for every point, there are guys who have been on tour who keep fighting and it is just getting that process.
“I am going to treat it as my job, do it properly and see where it takes me.”
Meanwhile he plans to enjoy some down time over the next couple of days as he recovers from a hectic period.
“I haven’t really trained properly for 3 weeks and I can still beat these guys. That is the main positive,” he added.
“I just came out of A-Levels after revising for three months, I haven’t played a single junior tournament this year and I had a pretty good 2 weeks. I am not too fussed about losing today.
“It was crazy, I just try to come in and forget about it.
“All the guys who came out of school saying they were relaxed, that wasn’t me, I have gone straight to the grind.
“I finished my last exam and the next day I was training for 3 hours. I like working, though.
Mochizuki now takes on the No 4 seed, America’s Martin Damm, his IMG companion and training partner, who also scored a straight set victory on Thursday.
Damm was at the top of his game in the first set of his 6-1 6-4 win over 10th-seeded Carlos Alcaraz Garfia from Spain, but went down 4-1 in the second set before rebounding to win the last 5 games of the match.
The 15-year-old American double faulted twice at deuce in his first service game of the second set, but did not show his frustration, determined not to lose control with so much on the line.
“That game was tough, and it cost me a lot of energy, but thankfully it didn’t cost me the set,” the 6-foot-6-inch left-hander said.
“I had a game point, missed a forehand approach then two double faults.
“Obviously I was fuming inside, but I knew I had to forget about it real quick to get that break back.
“Even though I didn’t get it that game, I stayed pretty positive, held at 0-3 and was able to break at 2-4.”
Damm’s serve is among the best in junior tennis, and he hit one delivery at 131 mph out on No 12 Court.
“I’ve had it a couple of times, but I think this was the most legit one,” Damm said. “But I didn’t really pay any attention to it.
“If I hit a good, clean serve, I looked at it [the speed gun] like 3 times the whole match, but it doesn’t say much to me.
“Not every serve do I hit as hard as I can, less spin, more spin, sometimes slower on purpose. Obviously, when I hit an ace T as hard as I can, I’ll have a look.”
Although Damm and Mochizuki have met only once in ITF Junior Circuit play, with the Japaense winning the Grade 1 final in Costa Rica, they are familiar with each other’s games after many years of training together at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
“We’re really good friends,” Damm said. “It’s me, Toby [Kodat] and Shintaro. We’re always together at IMG, we do fitness together every day, we’re around each other five, six hours every single day.
“We practice a lot, obviously. I’m very happy we’re both in the semis.
“He got the better of me in the beginning of the year, but I’m feeling pretty confident and we have a good game plan, and hopefully I can play well again tomorrow.”
Grass may not be Harold Mayot’s natural or favourite surface but, on Thursday, the Frenchman defeated Illya Beloborodko from the Ukraine, 6-4 6-4, to reach his first major semi-final, without dropping a set en route.
Last year, his first attempts to master the lawns of Britain ended in second round defeats at both Wimbledon and Roehampton, and he attributes the improvement to the adaptability he has shown throughout the week.
“I have to adapt my game on this [surface],” he says, shrugging. “Maybe I’m more of an aggressive player and I find something to be great there.
“If you are too defensive, it’s difficult to play, so I have to find something else. I have to be aggressive, to go to the net. It’s something I don’t do when I’m on clay or on hard.”
As faultless as Mayot’s path has been at Wimbledon, it comes after a period of despair.
Five weeks ago, he was devastated after he lost in the second round at Roland Garros, his home Grand Slam, in front of his friends and family and the 17 year-old found it difficult to pick up a racket after the crushing disappointment.
Mayot, however, went off to Offenbach in Germany and won the second Grade 1 title of his career, adding that working with a mental coach was instrumental in his resurgence.
“I think he helped me a lot in this,” says Mayot. “He told me I have to now be ready for Wimbledon, that I have to think well.
“He told me if I work hard, I’m gonna for sure be in the final or similar. I think the coach really helped. I worked with him for six months.”
Mayot, currently ranked 19th, started playing tennis at 4 years old with his father at home in Metz.
He eventually moved to Paris to play with the French Federation, supported by his family.
The youngster tries to keep his family life separate from tennis, but keeping them from judging the 5 tattoos he began to compile from the age of 15, including the ‘forgive but not forget’ quote blazed across his chest and the lion on his back, has proven far more difficult.
“My parents, for the first one they were not so happy, but when the tattoo is there, it’s there!” he says, laughing. “You can’t cancel it.”
Mayot takes on the unseeded Spaniard, Carlos Gimeno Valero, who took just short of 2 hours and 3 sets to overcome Dalibor Svrcina, 4-6 6-3 7-5.
In the boys doubles, Damm and Kodat, the No 3 seeds, beat Andrew Paulson of the Czech Republic & Eric Vanshelboim of Ukraine, 6-3 6-4.
America’s Brandon Nakashima and his partner Valentin Royer of France reached the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-1 win over Flavio Cobolli of Italy & Dominic Stricker of Switzerland.
No 7 seeds Liam Draxl of Canada & Govind Nanda advanced to the quarter-finals with a 6-4 6-3 win over Baptiste Anselmo & Loris Pourroy of France.