A repeat of of last week’s ITF Grade 1 Roehampton final is on the cards for Saturday’s Girls Wimbledon final, with unseeded Daria Snigur of Ukraine aiming for a round dozen wins over the past fortnight when she faces America’s No 10 seed Alexa Noel.
Both earned surprisingly routine victories in Friday’s semi-finals, with Noel beating 4th-seeded Diane Parry of France, 6-2 6-1, while Snigur eliminated top seed Emma Navarro from the United States, 6-3 6-0.
Noel and Parry’s match was close for the first 4 games, but the American took control and experienced no dips in her level after that, playing a brilliant, intelligent match to defeat Frenchwoman in an hour and 11 minutes.
“I think I never let up,” said the 16-year-old from New Jersey, who has yet to drop a set on the All England Lawn Tennis Club courts this week.
“Once I got the break in that first set at 2-all, I realised what I needed to do and that gave me more confidence to keep hitting through the ball…certainly in the first 4 games it was close, she almost broke me in my first service game, but I just think I played very well. I played super well.”
Although they had split their first two meetings, with Parry winning their most recent match at the Youth Olympic Games last October, Noel has shown her versatility this week, now in the Wimbledon final after claiming the Grade A title in Milan.
“From [Milan] I had a lot of confidence in myself and my game, so yeah it was pretty special. It’s super cool that I’m able to adapt,” said Noel, who is now at 14 in the ITF Junior rankings after peaking at 5 a year ago.
“That’s what you have to do to beat a good player. All the top players, everyone’s able to adapt, everyone’s good.”
Unlike Noel, Snigur doesn’t care for clay, and is not shy about proclaiming her love of grass.
“I have a very good forehand, a very good backhand and I want to attack all balls,” declared the 17-year-old, who beat Noel a week ago in the Roehampton final.
“I like grass, grass is my favourite surface.”
Snigur admitted to being very nervous at the start of the match, because she had lost to Navarro last month in the quarter-finals of the French Open Junior Championships.
“I play it game by game, see if the Queen of the Clay knows grass,” said Snigur, the 5th Ukrainian girl to reach the Wimbledon girls final.
“I know she plays very well on clay, [but] not on hard, not on grass.”
Navarro, who had lost the first set in her previous 3 victories, admitted that she was concerned after dropping the 1st set to Snigur, not because she had played badly, but because she had played well.
“The first set, I played a really good set,” said the 18-year-old from Charleston South Carolina. “I don’t know if I could have done that much different. I played really well and she answered that.
“Every point, she played really well, played out of corners. Her game is definitely suited for grass, which was tough.
“She returned well, did everything well, and in the second set I got a little discouraged that I had played a really good set and lost 6-3, she was really tough.”
“I think my game is better suited for clay, and her game is better suited for grass, but on any given day, anything can happen on any surface.”
It took Snigur 45 minutes to dispatch the French Open finalist.
“I’m really happy,” said Snigur afterwards. “I must keep calm and concentrate because tomorrow is the final.”
Snigur is playing in the final junior Grand Slam of her career, and she is determined to go out with a bang.
Despite winning the final 9 games from 3-3, the 17 year old admitted again that she is still feeling the stress: “I feel pressure all the time because today [is the] semi-final, tomorrow I will play the final. I feel pressure all day.”
Snigur has only played 3 grass tournaments in her career, but the 11 match winning streak she has compiled has already made it clear to her where she plays her best tennis.
“Grass, then hard and I hate clay,” she said, laughing. “Because [clay] has very long points, we have very hard matches, I must play slice and play net points. I don’t like it. I like to [attack] all the time.”
While Snigur used her flat, pinpoint groundstrokes to pick Navarro apart, Noel’s win over Parry was filled with extended slice rallies and topspin as the pair used their variety to outmanoeuvre the other.
“It’s definitely different,” said the American. “Not a lot of people play like that. When someone does it to me, it’s definitely a different type of style that I have to adjust to.”
For Noel, the score was a simple reflection of her dominance.
“I think that I never let up and once I got the break in the first set in 2-2, I realised what I needed to do,” she said.
“That gave me more confidence to hit through the ball. I just think I played very well. I played super well.”
Noel will be hoping that she will be able to adapt and produce a different result to the Roehampton final, played on the eve of the Junior Championships, in which Snigur dominated the American 6-1 6-2.
After playing their semi-final matches on Court 5, which has only bench seating and no Hawkeye, the Girls Final will be played on Court 1 on Saturday afternoon.
Noel says she enjoys playing in front of large crowds, while Snigur is less enthusiastic about the prospect.
“Yes, it’s a very big court, and yes, I’m nervous of course, because it’s too much people,” said Snigur. “I’m very nervous when there is much people around me. I don’t like big courts.”
Both the boys and girls doubles semi-finals are scheduled for Saturday, with 5 Americans still in the hunt for the title.
All the seeded teams are gone from the girls draw, with Savannah Broadus & Abigail Forbes defeating No 2 seeds Alina Charaeva(RUS) & Anastasia Tikhonova of Russia 6-7(3) 6-3 9-7.
They will play Aubane Droguet & Selena Janicijevic of France, who beat No 4 seeds Joanna Garland of Taiwan & Sohyun Park of Korea 6-2 6-3.
In boys doubles, No 3 seeds Martin Damm & Toby Kodat defeated the unseeded British wild card team of Jacob Fearnley & Connor Thomson, 6-3 7-5, and will face top seeds Jonas Forejtek & Jiri Lechecka of the Czech Republic Saturday.
No 7 seeds Govind Nanda & Canadian Liam Draxl beat No 2 seeds Mochizuki & Holger Rune of Denmark, 6-3 7-5, and will play the wild card team of Arthur Fery & Toby Samuel of Great Britain in Saturday’s semi-finals.