Melbourne | Top juniors cruise into quarters as second seeds exit
The top seeds in both the boys and girls kept on course in their respective Junior Championships at the Australian Open on Wednesday, but the two second seeds found themselves exiting from Melbourne Park.
Today I started good, won the first set, and from 5-2 down I came back. So, a great win Lorenzo Musetti
Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti has yet to drop a set in the boys event, but has been pushed pretty hard in his last two matches.
Nevertheless, last year’s US Open finalist surged into the quarter-finals with a 6-4 7-5 win over Liam Draxl, the Canadian No 15 seed who had beaten him just last week in the warm-up tournament in Traralgon.
“I lost 6-3 6-0 in a tough match, a bad match that he played really good,” Musetti conceded. “Today I started good, won the first set, and from 5-2 down I came back. So, a great win.
“I changed my behaviour, and the conditions were very different to Traralgon. We spoke a lot with my coach, we changed strategy and a lot of things, and it worked.
“There’s a lot of pressure playing as the first seed,” he admits. “But I think players have to live with pressure.
“You have to fight it, to manage it, and whoever manages best wins.
“2018 was my strongest year, my biggest year. I moved a lot in the ranking, learnt a lot and improved a lot.
“Making the US Open final was a surprise, and at Wimbledon, making a quarter-final at my third Slam was nice.
“But I think 2019 will give me something more. I have high hopes. Of course, one of my dreams is to win a junior Slam.”
Musetti has a one-handed backhand to envy, and used it to great effect on 1573 Arena, Melbourne Park’s fourth-largest court nestled in against Margaret Court Arena, the first junior match to be played on the court this year, a testament to the status of the showdown.
“It’s different – the surface is a little bit slower, and I really enjoyed playing there,” said Musetti, who could hear the cries from nearby Rod Laver Arena as Karolina Pliskova began her comeback against Serena WIlliams.
“Yesterday we played doubles on Court 3, also a big court, and really appreciated that.”
Such prestige comes with pressure, and after a breakout year in 2018, Musetti is having to adapt to his newfound status as the player to beat.
The Italian will face No 6 seed Nicolas Alvarez Varona for a place in the semi-finals after the Spaniard fought back to beat Great Britain’s Jacob Fearnley 4-6 7-5 6-1 and bringing an end to British interest in the boys draw.
No 3 seed Otto Virtanen rallied after seeing 6 match points come and go in the second set of his 6-4 6-7(11) 6-2 victory over Lodewijk Weststrate of the Netherlands, and will face Giulio Zeppieri of Italy in the quarter-finals, the Italian beating No 8 seed Jonas Forejtek 6-3 6-4.
The No.2 seed, Bu Yunchaokete, however, fell in the third round, beaten 6-2 3-6 6-1 by American No 13 seed Emilio Nava, who will face Jiri Lehecka for a place in the semi-finals, where another American, 9th seeded Cannon Kingsley, a 6-2 6-4 winner over No.4 seed Filip Cristian Jianu, awaits.
Denmark’s Clara Tauson has already made quite a name for herself.
In 2016, at age 13, she became the youngest woman to win the Danish championship, beating the record set by a 14-year-old Caroline Wozniacki.
The top seed in the girls’ singles draw admits she has split loyalties when it comes to who she looks up to.
“Of course, we have Caroline [Wozniacki], but it’s always been Roger [Federer]. I love him – everyone loves Roger.
“I love his game and how he acts on court,” she explains. “He’s always respectful around everybody, and there’s not a lot of outbursts – and when there is, it’s classy! He’s always calm, and when he loses, he says it doesn’t matter now, it’s over.
“I want to get myself into the net more – you know, like Federer. Everybody’s learning from him.
Tauson will face Kamila Bartone in the last eight after easing past Switzerland’s Valentina Ryser 6-2 7-5.
Bartone found the going a bit tougher against Priska Madelyn Nugroho, beating the Indonesian 15-year-old 6-3 3-6 6-3.
Leylah Annie Fernandez, the Canadian No 5 seed, will take on Manon Leonard of France after both beat qualifiers in the third round.
Fernandez ended Italy’s Lisa Pigato’s run 6-3 75, while Leonard stopped Veronika Pepelyaeva from Russia, 6-3 6-7(4) 6-4.
Another Italian qualifier, Federica Rossi, the third to reach the third round, fell 4-6 6-2 6-4 to Switzerland’s Lulu Sun, who faces Anasatasia Tikhonova in the quarters.
Tikhonova from Russia took out the second seed, Qinweng Zheng from China in the second round and, on Wednesday, ended British hopes by defeating Victoria Allen, 7-6(5) 6-4.
Completing the final eight in the girls’ draw are Ukraine’s Daria Snigur, a 3-6 6-4 6-2 winner over USA’s Emma Navarro, and Thailand’s 5th-seeded Mananchaya Sawangkaew, who downed No 11 seed Adrienn Nagy from Hungary, 6-2 6-4.