A day off because of the weather clearly did not help the two top seeds in the Simple Garçons at Roland Garros on Friday, as both Lorenzo Musetti and Jonas Forejtek, the No 1 and 2 seeds respectively, were sent packing from the last 16.
Musetti pushed it all the way against Peter Makk, a qualifier from Hungary, who outlasted the Italian, 6-7(5) 6-3 7-5, while Forejtek from the Czech Republic lost in three to another Italian, Flavio Cobolli, 6-4 3-6 6-2.
America’s Martin Damm upset Thiago Augustin Tirante, the No 5 seed from Argentina, 7-6(3), and then took out Makk, 6-1 6-4.
These results are all the more remarkable in that Damm is 15-years old, and has now reached the final four on his Roland Garros debut.
The boys’ final is now guaranteed to feature an unseeded player, with Toby Alex Kodat of USA facing Japan’s Shintaro Mochizuki.
Kodat was leading No 4 seed Adrian Andreev 7-6(5) 5-3 when the Bulgarian retired, then claimed a 7-6(3) 6-2 victory over Canada’s Taha Baadi.
Mochizuki got increasingly ruthless as the day wore on, beating Pablo Llamas Ruiz of Spain 7-5 6-4 before beating Italy’s Flavio Cobolli, 6-1 6-2.
With Kodat and Damm still in contention, there remains the prospect of an all-American boys’ final in Paris, 4 years after Tommy Paul beat Taylor Fritz for the title in 2015 and a year on from Cori Gauff’s 2018 triumph over Caty McNally.
“So far this tournament has been great,” Kodat said. “I’ve been playing really well, getting through matches in straight sets – so far, so good. Clay is probably a better surface for me than hard court.
“Honestly, I came to the tournament to win the tournament – I wasn’t looking to go two or three rounds. If I didn’t want to win it, I shouldn’t be here.”
This means that both the 3rd and 4th seeds are now gone too, with America’s Brandon Nakashima going down in three sets to the 15th seed from Romania, Filip Cristian Jianu, 6-7(3) 6-3 6-4.
Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune, the 7th seed from Denmark, is now the highest-ranked player left in the boys’ draw.
Two months after turning 16, he is just 2 matches away from a junior Grand Slam title, having not dropped a set through 4 matches.
“I had a dream to win this tournament, so I’m really happy to be here and I hope to make the final,” said Rune, who will face Damm, the 10th seed, for a spot in the final.
With Wednesday’s schedule falling victim to the sodden conditions, both the third round and the quarter-finals were completed on Thursday, with some players still in contention in both singles and doubles taking to court 3 times.
Rune regards himself as one of the lucky ones, since his first match was one of the few that had started before the rain came on Wednesday.
Having booked his quarter-final spot with a 3-game sprint to down France’s Arthur Cazaux, 6-4 6-3, he returned to face Jianu, who retired trailing 6-0 4-1 having called the doctor at the end of the opening set.
“In the second match I had more energy,” said Rune, who will be one of the fresher players on Friday. “I was focused and playing well with a good attitude.”
That focus has been a feature of Rune’s tennis journey for almost a decade.
“I loved playing, loved hitting forehands and backhands,” he said. “So, I took the decision to be a professional tennis player, working every day on that. And I still love it.
“I have a really good coach who has worked with me since I started. He helps me every day, gives me hard exercises to keep improving.
“Clay is my favourite surface – I’m comfortable on it, I like to stay close to the line and use my kick serve. I’m very happy, and I couldn’t ask for more.”
As a result of the lost play, two rounds of matches were on the cards on Thursday for top-seeded Leyla Fernandez from Canada, who made it safely into the semi-finals with the loss of only two games, routing No 15 seed Sohyun Park of South Korea, 6-2 6-0, and then handing France’s Elsa Jacquemot a double-bagel, 6-0 6-0.
Her next opponent is the 3rd-seeded Maria Camilla Osorio Serrano from Colombia, who had a lengthier time on court defeating first Romana Cisovsk from Slovakia, 6-3 7-5, before dowing the No 11 seed Alina Charaeva, 6-3 6-3.
Charaeva had dispatched the 7th seed Japan’s Natsumi Kawaguchi, 6-3 6-2, prior to meeting Osorio Serrano.
No 8 seed Emma Navarro kept hope alive for a third straight American girls champion in Paris, beating 9th-seeded Kamilla Bartone of Latvia, 6-4 6-4, in the third round and unseeded Daria Snigur of Ukraine, 6-7(6) 6-3, 6-3 in the quarter-finals.
Snigur had beaten Navarro in the third round of the Australian Open back in January, although Navarro had won their previous meeting on clay.
Navarro’s semi-final opponent is No 5 seed Qinwen Zheng of China, who has beaten Navarro in their only two meetings, both on clay, in the first round at last year’s Eddie Herr and in the semi-finals the following week at the Orange Bowl.
Zheng beat Joanna Garland, 6-3 6-4, before finally ending the run of Swedish lucky loser Caijsa Wilda Hennemann, 2-6 6-3 6-3.
The other girls semi-final features top seed Fernandez and Osorio Serrano of Colombia, who have split their two previous meetings, with the Colombian winning their quarter-final match last year at the US Open Junior Championships and Fernandez winning their 2018 French Open Junior third round match.
Navarro, Kodat and Damm are also still in contention in doubles quarter-finals. Kodat and Damm are partners, facing Cobolli and Dominic Stricker of Austria, while Navarro, paired with Chloe Beck, will face Zheng once more, the No 5 seed playing with Russia’s Taisya Pachkaleva.
With teenagers Marketa Vondrousova and Amanda Anisimova, a 2016 junior finalist in Paris, through to Friday’s women’s singles semi-finals, youth has been the story in Paris.