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Paris | Fernandez and Rune take junior singles honours

Paris | Fernandez and Rune take junior singles honours

American dreams of joint junior champions were thwarted by a talented Canadian and a resourceful Dane on a blustery day in Paris.

This year my goal was to win one junior Grand Slam, and I fell short in Australian Open junior. I was very happy to be able to have another opportunity here in French Open, and to win it, Leylah Fernandez

American dreams of joint junior champions were thwarted by a talented Canadian and a resourceful Dane on a blustery day in Paris.

The No 1 seed in the girls, Leylah Fernandez, became the first Canadian to lift a junior Grand Slam trophy since Eugenie Bouchard, who won Wimbledon in 2012, with a convincing win over Emma Navarro in the final at the French Open.

Meanwhile Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune, seeded 7th for the title, dispatched the other American, the unseeded Toby Kodat, with an impressive bagel final set.

Fernandez suffered heartbreak in the Australian Open final earlier this year at the hands of another Dane, Clara Tauson,who defeated her in straight sets, but on this day she positively stormed past her American opponent to seal her first junior major title in just 85 minutes.

“This year my goal was to win one junior Grand Slam, and I fell short in Australian Open junior. I was very happy to be able to have another opportunity here in French Open, and to win it,” she said.

“Roland Garros is very special for me because it was the first Grand Slam I watched on TV. So being able to win here as a junior player is very special for me, so I’m very happy.”

Fernandez was called up to Canada’s Fed Cup team in April after her performance in Sydney for a matchup against the reigning champions from the Czech Republic. She fell to Marketa Vondrousova, who is currently ranked No. 38 on the WTA Tour.

The left-handed top seed didn’t drop a set during the entire French Open and was the dominant player of the week, dropping only 19 games in her previous 5 matches.

The 16-year-old from Montreal proved equally imposing throughout the showpiece encounter.

A double fault gifted her a first break of serve, and though it was rapidly equalised by the 18-year-old Navarro, who had been pushed to 3 sets in both her previous matches, another break in the 6th game proved decisive.

The WTA World No 371 clicked through the gears in the second set, immediately taking the ascendancy by pinching a game on her opponent’s delivery.

Although 3 double faults meant she was unable to consolidate that advantage at first, she powered to glory by winning 5 of the next 6 games, breaking twice along the way.

“As I was warming up before the match, I was very nervous, but my father talked me out of it,” Fernandez admitted.

“He calmed me. He told me that all I had to do was to be happy to be in the finals and to play and just to fight for each point.

“In the first set, I was serving for the set and it was a bit long, but I was able to overcome that.

“In the second set, I was 1-0 and then I was serving, but she broke again. But it wasn’t a problem, because I knew I had won the first set and it was the beginning of the second set, so all I had to do was to fight.”

Fernandez possesses a deft drop shot, which she often used to great effect.

She showed signs of nerves trying to close out the set serving at 5-3, double faulting twice early in the game, but she found her forehand in the nick of time, saving 3 break points in that game and closing out the set.

Fernandez broke Navarro to start the second set, and despite giving the break right back in the next game, she rolled through the remainder of the match, earning a 6-3 6-2 victory.

The top-seed, who turns 17 in September, is the first Canadian, boy or girl, to win a Roland Garros singles title.

She will not be playing Wimbledon Juniors, although she said she may play the US Open Juniors before concentrating exclusively on her pro career.

Navarro may have been denied the chance to become USA’s third consecutive Roland Garros girls’ singles champion, but the New York native returned to court to win the doubles title with compatriot Chloe Beck, the Americans downing Russian duo Alina Charaeva and Anastasia Tikhonova 6-1 6-2 having previously reached the 2018 US Open semi-finals and 2019 Australian Open final together.

Despite not being seeded. Navarro & Beck are the second all-US team to win a girls doubles title at Roland Garros, with Beth Herr and Janet Lagasse’s title back in 1982 the only previous one.

 

In the boys final Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune needed 3 sets to beat Toby Kodat but in the decider he did not drop a game.

The Dane lists Roger Federer as an idol, along with another young Canadian: 2016 Roland Garros boys’ finalist Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Rune went one step better than the current world No 22, who is just two years his senior, with his victory over Toby Kodat, but was relieved that a timely rain delay gave him the chance to reset after blowing two match points in the second set.

He appeared to be on his way to a routine victory over the unseeded American, serving for the match at 6-3 5-4, 40-15., but Kodat saved both match points, won the game, only to be broken again to give Rune a chance to serve for the match again.

He only won one point in that game however, and Kodat took the tiebreak 7-5, winning the final four points to take the set.

“I was really frustrated,” admitted the No 7 seed, who had chances to clinch the title at 5-4 in the second set before the rain came once Kodat had levelled at a set apiece.

“I managed to relax and settle down in the break, talk with my coach and my mental coach who is here with me – I came back out fresh and free, playing my game.”

It was an ideal time for Rune to get a break, and the weather cooperated, with a rain delay giving him time to regroup.

He came out strong to open the third set, and although 3 games went to deuce, Rune won them all for a 6-3 6-7(5) 6-0 victory over fellow 16-year-old.

Rune is the second player from Denmark to win the Roland Garros boys title, with Kurt Nielsen’s title way back in 1948 the only other one.

The win fulfilled a childhood dream in the process and he celebrating on court with his family and members of the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy, where he trains when not in Denmark.

“It was an amazing feeling to be on the court and have the crowd cheering for me and my opponent – just an amazing experience,” he said.

“It feels unbelievable. I mean, I was dreaming about this, and now it’s a dream come true. Now my dream is to win here as a senior in a couple of years – just a couple.”

In the boys’ doubles draw, Argentine-Brazilian pair Thiago Agustin Tirante and Matheus Pucinelli De Almeida downed Italy’s Flavio Cobolli and Dominic Stephan Stricker of Switzerland 7-6(3) 6-4.

The boys doubles title was won by No 5 seeds Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida of Brazil & Thiago Tirante of Argentina, who beat unseeded Flavio Cobolli of Italy & Dominic Stricker of Switzerland ,7-6(3) 6-4 in the final.

 


Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune of Denmark in action during the final

Getty Images

In the boys final Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune needed 3 sets to beat Toby Kodat but in the decider he did not drop a game.

The Dane lists Roger Federer as an idol, along with another young Canadian: 2016 Roland Garros boys’ finalist Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Rune went one step better than the current world No 22, who is just two years his senior, with his victory over Toby Kodat, but was relieved that a timely rain delay gave him the chance to reset after blowing two match points in the second set.

He appeared to be on his way to a routine victory over the unseeded American, serving for the match at 6-3 5-4, 40-15., but Kodat saved both match points, won the game, only to be broken again to give Rune a chance to serve for the match again.

He only won one point in that game however, and Kodat took the tiebreak 7-5, winning the final four points to take the set.

“I was really frustrated,” admitted the No 7 seed, who had chances to clinch the title at 5-4 in the second set before the rain came once Kodat had levelled at a set apiece.

“I managed to relax and settle down in the break, talk with my coach and my mental coach who is here with me – I came back out fresh and free, playing my game.”

It was an ideal time for Rune to get a break, and the weather cooperated, with a rain delay giving him time to regroup.

He came out strong to open the third set, and although 3 games went to deuce, Rune won them all for a 6-3 6-7(5) 6-0 victory over fellow 16-year-old.

Rune is the second player from Denmark to win the Roland Garros boys title, with Kurt Nielsen’s title way back in 1948 the only other one.

The win fulfilled a childhood dream in the process and he celebrating on court with his family and members of the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy, where he trains when not in Denmark.

“It was an amazing feeling to be on the court and have the crowd cheering for me and my opponent – just an amazing experience,” he said.

“It feels unbelievable. I mean, I was dreaming about this, and now it’s a dream come true. Now my dream is to win here as a senior in a couple of years – just a couple.”

In the boys’ doubles draw, Argentine-Brazilian pair Thiago Agustin Tirante and Matheus Pucinelli De Almeida downed Italy’s Flavio Cobolli and Dominic Stephan Stricker of Switzerland 7-6(3) 6-4.

The boys doubles title was won by No 5 seeds Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida of Brazil & Thiago Tirante of Argentina, who beat unseeded Flavio Cobolli of Italy & Dominic Stricker of Switzerland ,7-6(3) 6-4 in the final.

 





About The Author

Barbara Wancke

Barbara Wancke is a Tennis Threads Tennis Correspondent who has been involved in the sport for over 40 years, not only as a former player, umpire and coach but primarily as an administrator and tennis writer contributing over the years to Lawn Tennis, Tennis World, and Tennis Today. She has worked with the Dunlop Sports Co, IMG and at the ITF as Director of Women’s Tennis, responsible, amongst other things, for the running of the Federation Cup (now Fed Cup), and acting as Technical Director for tennis at the Seoul Olympics (1988). She subsequently set up her own tennis consultancy Tennis Interlink and was elected to the Board of the TIA UK where she became the Executive Administrator and Executive Vice President until she stood down in July 2014 and is currently an Honorary Vice President.

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