Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic ended his junior career by winning the US Open Boys Singles title on Sunday, defeating any hopes for an American 2019 junior major title at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
His level was really good....But then I started playing more aggressive, which was better against him, and he started making more mistakes after. But his level maybe dropped a bit, my level got higher. Jonas Forejtek
The No 4 seed came from a set down to defeat American Emilio Nava, winning 12 of the final 14 games in Louis Armstrong Stadium to earn a 6-7(4) 6-0 6-2 victory and hoist the winner’s trophy.
“It’s so good,” Forejtek told reporters after the final. “It’s big motivation also for the future.”
Forejtek joins an elite list of former US Open boys’ singles champions that includes Stefan Edberg, Andy Roddick, Andy Murray, Grigor Dimitrov and Felix Auger-Aliassime.
He is the first Czech to claim the US Open boys’ singles title since 2006 and only the 4th Czech male to win a major junior singles title.
“They won it, [and] I have to work hard to get at least close to them,” he said. “So I think it’s motivation to and I got a lot of confidence from this.”
Five different Americans reached a total of 6 junior Grand Slam singles finals this year, but none was able to get their hands on any of the silverware.
Forejtek had some experience with junior finals before, as the winner of both the Australian and Wimbledon boys doubles titles earlier this year.
Taking on Australian Open singles finalist Nava in Louis Armstrong Stadium was a big step up for the 18-year-old, who had never been past the round of 16 at a junior slam in his previous 7 appearances.
Although the level in the first set was high for both players, Forejtek felt he was too passive, partly because Nava, seeded 8th, did not allow give him many chances to play aggressively.
“I think first set he played really well,” Forejtek said. “[How] he was serving, I didn’t have chances for any breaks, maybe one break point.
“His level was really good….But then I started playing more aggressive, which was better against him, and he started making more mistakes after. But his level maybe dropped a bit, my level got higher.”
Forejtek, however, will gain confidence from the way he was able to turn the tide of Sunday’s final.
After Nava played brilliantly to seize the first-set tiebreak, the Czech from Pilsen never blinked.
He marched through a dominant second set as Nava made a rash of unforced errors, winning all 6 games and 25 of 34 points in total, and taking it in just 20 minutes.
Forejtek didn’t skip a beat in the deciding set either, even when Nava threatened to reclaim a break deficit in the 6th game.
Trailing 3-2, Nava rallied from 0-40 to earn a break point behind 4 consecutive winners, but he tightened up in a critical moment and dumped a backhand from the mid-court into the net.
The miss proved fatal and it was his last break opportunity of the afternoon.
“I had that ad point, I was pretty confident with it, second serve, hit a nice inside out and inside the court I think I thought too much where to go, when I generally have it so clear, and I ended up missing it,” Nava said.
“He played great. In the first set he was solid, but was missing a bit. In the second, he just was letting his forehands go, gained a lot more confidence in his serve as well, and it was tough to bounce back.”
Nava, who had been serving well throughout the tournament, particularly in his 2 wins on Saturday, saw that part of his game drop off in the final 2 sets.
“In the first set, it was pretty good, pretty solid, but in the second set it definitely dropped off pretty hard,” said the 17-year-old from Los Angeles.
“I was getting a little frustrated, so in the 3rd, I just started kicking it, just trying to make it, get the confidence back.”
When Forejtek converted his 2nd match point, his celebration was subdued, with nothing more dramatic than a fist pump, but in his press conference in the main interview room, the Czech was obviously elated about his first junior slam singles title.
“It’s really great,” Forejtek said. “I won Grand Slams only in doubles, and in singles, it’s just unreal. It’s so good; it’s big motivation also for the future.”
Although Forejtek is considering playing the ITF Junior Masters this autumn, he is ready to move full time into pro tennis, although an even bigger challenge awaits him next weekend, as a member of the Czech Davis Cup team in its tie with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Forejtek is part of the very young Czech team, which includes Jiri Lehecka and Dalibor Svrcina, who also played in the US Open Junior Championships, and 18-year-old Tomas Machac, along with ATP veteran Jiri Vesely.
“I’m happy I played on the big courts, because it’s a bit different from other ones,” Forejtek said. “I was always playing on the small courts this tournament. Always. So I’m really, really looking forward to it, and let’s see how it will go.”
Nava, who turns 18 in December, is also going to turn his focus to the Pro Circuit, with his next tournament likely to be the $25,000 event in Houston the week after next.