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Paris | Musetti leads the Junior action

The stars of the future began their quest for a junior Grand Slam title at Roland Garros on Sunday as action got under way in the boys and girls singles competitions in Paris.

The stars of the future began their quest for a junior Grand Slam title at Roland Garros on Sunday as action got under way in the boys and girls singles competitions in Paris.

Top boys seed Lorenzo Musetti of Italy defeated French wild card Timo Legout, 7-5 6-0, in his return to junior competition for the first time since winning the Australian Open in January, while second-seeded Jonas Forejtek from Czech Republic had a somewhat tougher encounter with America’s Eliot Spizzirri but came through, 7-6(5) 7-6(6).

Spizzirri was one of 6 American juniors in action on Day 1 of the juniors, with 2 qualifiers picking up their first junior slam wins in the process.

The girls No 2 seed Diane Parry of France rather routinely saw off Daria Frayman of Russia, 6-2 6-2, but the favourite for the title, Leylah Fernandez of Canada, is not in action until Monday.

As temperatures hit 32C under a bright blue sky, Argentina’s Thiago Agustin Tirante, seeded No 5 in the boys’ draw, claimed his first win, outgunning American Cannon Kingsley, 6-7(4) 6-4 6-2.

Playing in his third and final Roland Garros junior tournament, the World No 6 had to do it the hard way, taking 2 hours and 15 minutes to down Kingsley, who is set for college tennis at Ohio State later this year.

“It was really tough,” admitted Tirante, who is looking to translate his sterling results in South America further afield.

“In the third set I had to play more aggressive, with more intensity, and I came through.

“It’s been really important this year for me to be able to travel with my coach as I’m playing on the ITF World Tennis Tour and the junior Grand Slams.

“My mental coach has been good for me – they are good for some guys, and he’s helped me very much, both inside and outside the court.

“The travel for tennis is long, and these tournaments come one after another, so you’re training all the time between matches and learning how to give everything on the court every day.

“This is the most important message from my coach: in every match, give everything.”

Tirante cuts an imposing figure on his third visit to Roland Garros in the juniors.

“It’s very special for me because it’s my last year in juniors,” said the 18-year old.

“I have more expectations for this year. In Argentina all the courts are clay – I like the surface – so Roland Garros is special for me. It’s my favourite Grand Slam, so I want my name to be part of it.”

There is a distinct South American surge in evidence in Paris this year, with standout victories for two qualifiers in the boys’ singles, as Roman Andres Burrachaga of Argentina battled from a set down to beat No 16 seed Rinky Hijikata, 3-6 7-5 6-4, while Brazil’s Mateus Alves downed Dalibor Svrcina, 7-5 6-4.

There were upsets, with Liam Draxl, the Canadian boys’ No 11 seed, beaten 6-4 3-6 6-1 by France’s Arthur Cazaux, and the Japanese No 14 seed Shunsuke Mitsui taken out by Hungarian qualifier Peter Makk, 6-1 7-5.

Makk next meets French wild card Nicolas Tepmahc, who ousted American qualifier William Grant, 6-2 6-1.

Grant, a direct descendant of US President and American Civil War General Ulysses S Grant, looked to take the positives from the journey to his junior Grand Slam main draw debut, rather than linger on a result that made him joke that clay may not be his favourite surface after all.

“Getting to Roland Garros and Wimbledon was a big goal for me, and I’m really glad I made it happen,” said the 18-year-old, who is also set for college tennis at the University of Florida.

“The last week before the cut-off was my last chance to get into qualies off my ranking, and I had a good result in Slovakia. I had two really good, close matches, and I was really happy to get through.

“This is just a different experience here on site. Just being in the locker room has a different energy – so different from being a spectator.”

As Grant left with a grin, and a doubles draw to look forward to, it was a timely reminder that while some players’ Grand Slam journeys are just beginning this week, those that ended on a sunny Sunday in south-west Paris represent much more than just one match.

Another American, 16-year-old qualifier Dali Blanch had a routine win over Gustaf Strom from Sweden, 6-0 6-1, while compatriot Toby Kodat eliminated 13th seed Carlos Alcaraz Garfia, a 16-year-old who has had success on the pro circuit and holds an ATP ranking of 502, beating the Spaniard, 6-4 6-4.

Brandon Nakashima, the 3rd seed, defeated Kevin Chahoud of Sweden, 6-1 6-2, in his first junior match of the year after a semester at the University of Virginia, and the No 6 seed Emilio Nava also sailed through his first round match, beating Youcef Rihane of Algeria, 6-2 6-3.


In the girls, Maria Camila Osorio Serrano of Colombia made an impressive start to her campaign as the 3rd seed made light work of Ana Geller, the sister of former junior World No 1 Axel Geller, dismissing the Argentine qualifier, 6-3 6-1, in just 50 minutes.

It was an emphatic return to the junior ranks for Osorio Serrano, who has spent this year making strides in her professional career, reaching the quarter-finals of the WTA event in Bogota and representing Colombia in Fed Cup, earning herself a Heart Award nomination in the process.

Up next for her is Hong Kong’s Hong Yi Cody Wong, who downed Liubov Kostenko, 6-3 6-3.

While the singles-digit seeds in action in both draws all survived, girls’ No 12 seed Sada Nahimana of Burundi, who reached the JA Milan final a little over a week ago, fell to big-hitting American Charlotte Chavatipon, 6-3 6-0.

No  8 seed Emma Navarro advanced with a 6-3 6-4 win over Adrienn Nagy of Hungary, but the 14th seed Elli Mandlik, who won a $15K tournament in Italy a couple of weeks ago, lost to Romana Cisovska of Slovakia, 6-2 6-3.

Mandlik is the daughter of Czech four-time Grand Slam champion Hana Mandlikova, who won the girls’ event in Paris in 1978.

In other action, Americans Lea Ma retired, trailing No 16 seed Helene Pellicano of Malta, 6-3 3-1; Savannah Broadus lost to No 15 seed Sohyun Park of Korea, 6-4 1-6 6-2; and Abigail Forbes was beaten by No 7 seed Natsumi Kawaguchi of Japan, 6-3 5-7 6-3.



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