Melbourne | Tauson and Musetti claim junior titles
Top seed Clara Tauson of Denmark joined Caroline Wozniacki as a junior girls’ singles Grand Slam champion with a victory over Leylah Fernandez in the final of the Australian Open on Saturday.
I feel like it was a big court. We haven't played on it, either of us. We just warmed up on Rod Laver. So I think both of us was nervous. She was playing really good in the beginning. I feel like I won because I kept fighting and try to get my emotions, keep my emotions Clara Tauson
The young Dane admits to being inspired by the great Dane’s run to the Australian Open title last year.
“I’ve practiced with her,” Tauson said. “She’s a big inspiration for everyone in Denmark playing tennis and other sports.”
Tauson has won 12 straight junior matches since her exit at the US Open girls’ tournament in the round of 32.
Early on Saturday afternoon the 16-year old beat another young talent, the fourth-seeded Leylah Annie Fernandez, 6-4 6-3, in just over an hour on Rod Laver Arena.
The Canadian reached the semi-finals at the French Open junior tournament last year and the quarter-finals at the US Open.
Asked about her win on the big show court in her media conference later, Tauson responded: “I feel like it was a big court. We haven’t played on it, either of us. We just warmed up on Rod Laver. So I think both of us was nervous.
“She was playing really good in the beginning. I feel like I won because I kept fighting and try to get my emotions, keep my emotions.”
The top seed won her last 12 sets of the tournament after a shock 6-1 opening set loss in the first round against wildcard Anastasia Berezov, a match she eventually rallied to win, 1-6 6-3 6-1, to begin her championship run.
In the final, the Dane won three of the last four games to wrestle the opening set away from the No 4 seed, after the two traded breaks across the 5th and 6th games.
Tauson’s lead built to 6-4 4-1 in the second set before the left-handed Canadian began to battle back, twice breaking the top seed’s serve and saving a match point along the way late in the set.
The Dane, however, had her way on return, and ultimately broke Fernandez the last four times the Canadian served to seal her first-ever Grand Slam title.
Tauson now joins Wozniacki as a junior Grand Slam champion from their country, as the former World No 1 won the girls’ singles title at Wimbledon in 2006.
Wozniacki was also the runner-up to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova Down Under in that same year, before winning the women’s singles title at Melbourne Park last year.
Tauson is also the first top seed to win a girls’ singles Grand Slam title since Belinda Bencic won the 2013 Wimbledon title, and is undefeated in the junior ranks dating back to the US Open.
“1 knew that after going here I would play some more pro tournaments, I don’t think it’s going to change anything about my plans,” she said.
“The start of the year has been good for me. I’m not thinking about too much if I never lose a match in juniors any more because I will. I’m very happy about the last 12 matches.
“I wasn’t expecting actually to win here after the fourth round. I kept working hard and had some tough matches in the beginning. I got through it, so I’m very happy about that,” she assessed.
Top seed Lorenzo Musetti from Italy survived a test of nerves to win the Australian boys singles title, 4-6 6-2 7-6(12), over Emilio Nava of the United States.
Musetti watched 5 match points slip away in a third-set tiebreak before he finally clinched his first major junior title.
The Italian finally sealed the victory when Nava sent a forehand wide to end the 2-hours, 7-minute contest on Rod Laver Arena.
It continued the steady Grand Slam junior’s progress of Musetti, who reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year and was runner-up in the US Open, when he was defeated in three sets by the Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild.
No Italian has reached the boys final at Melbourne Park before, but now Musetti’s trophy win will take him from No 4 in the ITF rankings to No 1, the youngest player in the top 10.
No 13-seeded Nava had chances to win the title when he led 8-7 and 12-11 in the match tiebreak.
Ivan Lendl watched the final from Nava’s player box, and later presented the trophy to Musetti.
For Nava, his first time past the second round at a major was an important experience.
“It felt really fun,” he said of the tiebreak, “but kind of didn’t move my feet as much, started shanking a little more.”
Musetti already has endorsements, including Nike, following in the footsteps of his idol Roger Federer.
Like his idol, Musetti possesses a fine one-handed backhand that is both attractive and effective: “My backhand sometimes can be really good and sometimes can be too defensive with the backspin,” he admitted.
“It was not easy today, because on Rod Laver, it is a big stadium, you stay like far from the line.
“So this was the only thing that I haven’t like that, so I’m very happy with this, because the strategy of the match was to don’t go too far from the line, because Emilio plays really aggressive. Yeah, I did it, and I’m very happy.”
Discovered by Filippo Volandri and raised in the Italian national programs, Muretti attends the Liceo linguistico, trains at the Technical Center of Tirrenia and is coached by Simone Tartarini, who is based at the Circolo Tennis Spezia.
In 2018 he won the City of Florence Trophy and the Under 18 international Bayer Trophy of Salsomaggiore, both Grade 2 tournaments, and the Grade 1 Allianz Kundler German Juniors of Berlin.
And 2019 could not open in a better way for him.
His opponent, Nava, is the cousin of ATP player Ernesto Escobedo, and struck first in the final, claiming the only break of the opener to move in front after 37 minutes.
It was the first time Musetti had dropped a set in the tournament, but the Italian stormed back in the second, breaking twice to even things up and send the match into a decider.
Neither player budged on serve in the third, sending the final into a deciding tiebreak in this, the first year that players play to 10 points in the final set in all draws.
Still neither player gave an inch, Nava fighting back from 3-5 down to move within two points of the title at 8-7.
It was Musetti, though, who reached championship point first, Nava rallying brilliantly to save three in succession before holding his own at 12-11.
From there, however, Musetti rattled off three points in succession, falling to the court when the American sent a forehand long.
“I was not thinking, I was just playing – living every point,” Musetti said of the final few points.
“It was a fantastic tiebreak. Also, Emilio played really good and he saved, like, three match points. Yeah, it was a fantastic tiebreak. Match point, it was unbelievable.
“I had a lot of pressure since the first rounds, but I got a lot of experience last year in New York, so I knew how to manage the pressure and the feelings of the final.
“Today was a crazy match. The first set was really tough, second set was really good – he went down a little bit – but third set was really a fight, and I’m very happy to win my first Slam.”