US Open Juniors | McHugh and Raducanu fall as semis decided
Britain’s Emma Raducanu met her match on Friday at the US Open, out on Court 17, at the hands of 11th-seeded Clara Burel of France, ending her hopes of a semi-final place in the girls junior singles.
Also out of the tournament is Aidan McHugh, whose unfinished third round match carried over from Thursday saw no recovery against the 6th-seeded Thiago Seyboth Wild from Brazil, who won 6-4 6-1.
Raducanu, 15, was outclassed by Burel from the outset, despite several forays between changeovers for help from her coach on the sidelines, Nigel Sears, prompting the question as to the validity of allowing unrestricted coaching on court in the junior game.
It certainly didn’t help the Brit, who trailed 4-0 before garnering a game, and then talked herself out of winning any more after clawing back just one other.
Where she had been so dominant in her previous encounters, she misfired all too often on this occasion, and looked slow off the mark, eventually going down 6-2 6-0 to the more experienced Frenchwoman, who is two years older.
That the Toronto-born Raducanu is a precocious talent, there is no doubt, and the occasion may well have proven too much for her as temperatures dropped into the 70s for the first time in days, the overcast skies a welcomed relief on Day 12 of the 2018 US Open.
The Frenchwoman went 6 for 13 on break points, creating the lopsided scoreline and a match, at least from a British perspective, probably best forgotten.
Now that Dasha Lopatetskaya has returned to the juniors after a successful foray onto the pro tour, the two top seeds at the US Open won’t be sweeping the titles this year.
The bubbly 15-year-old right-hander from Kharkiv, Ukraine, stunned top-seeded Cori Gauff, 6-4 3-6 6-2, on Friday to advance to the Girls’ semi-finals, where she will take on 3rd-seeded Xiyu Wang of China, a 7-6(5) 6-2 winner over Japan’s Naho Sato, the 9th seed.
Gauff struggled with consistency on serve, launching 17 double faults during the match.
“I was really calm today,” Lopatetskaya said. “And I was just thinking about what I should do on the court. Zero emotions, really bad emotions – I was just thinking what I should do on the next point. If I missed, okay, I missed. If I hit a winner, okay, I hit a winner. I was just thinking what I should do to beat her.”
In the early going, Gauff jumped out to a 2-0 lead only to see the Ukrainian reel off 4 consecutive games.
The 14-year-old hit 5 unforced errors in the first set and found no aces. Gauff, who did not face a seeded player en route to the quarters, dropped her first set of the tournament, 6-4.
The crowd favourite showed signs of settling down, grabbing a 4-2 lead in the second set.
Although the Ukrainian broke to get back on serve, the Roland-Garros champion showed her resilience, returning the favour on the next game for a 5-3 lead and ultimately serving out the second set, 6-3.
In the final set, the tide turned against Lopatetskaya as she served for the match at 5-1, when Gauff managed to break, but trailing 2-5 on serve, the American faltered again and saw the match slip away.
“She has an amazing serve, and in the future, I think it’s going to be the best serve,” Lopatetskaya said.
“She’s really strong, and her first serve is really incredible. Even the second serve, when she serves full, on my forehand or in the body, it was really, really tough to return.
“From the first games, I couldn’t really get comfortable with this. In the end, she did a lot of double faults, but you know, it’s pressure. I was just thinking how to technically, properly, put the ball in the court.”
“It was an incredible match – two good players on the court, especially Coco, because she’s World N. 1. It’s amazing to play against her,” Lopatetskaya said of the match played on Court 17.
“It was just a good match, a good fight, and I just gave my best out there. It was just really amazing to play on this big court, with this really amazing crowd. It’s my first time, my first Grand Slam, from the [qualifying], so I’m just really excited now to play the semi-finals. I’m going to go out there and do my best.”
The youngest of the four players remaining, Lopatetskaya is making two kinds of debuts at Flushing Meadows, in the Big Apple and playing the US Open for the first time
“New York has my heart, as I said on the court. I was dreaming to come to the city and play on the big courts with a crowd, and it’s such a part of the dream for me,” she said.
Ranked World No 70 on the junior circuit coming into the event, Lopatetskaya is currently on a six-match winning streak in New York, having come through two matches in qualifying draw, and upsetting of No 6 seed and European junior champion Clara Tauson of Denmark in the second round before she stunned Gauff.
“I didn’t get into Wimbledon, French Open, or Australian Open. When I started this year, my ranking was like no. 400, so I just played, played, played.”
The teenager’s stacked schedule included a brief venture into the ITF women’s circuit this summer, where she made tennis die-hards stand up and take notice by winning the first two professional events she ever played, in Turkey and Hungary.
“My score is 11-0…I haven’t lost a match in the pros,” she said with a laugh.
“I played two $15,000 [events] and I won them. I mean, I was just enjoying it out there, because the girls were 10, 15 years older than me and there was zero pressure on me.
“My first tournament was from qualies, because I didn’t get into the main draw, but I won there. It was really great. Everyone was asking me, ‘Are you really 15?’ before a match. Everyone was really surprised that I’m 15, but I was really enjoying it out there and was really, really relaxed there.”
She returned home to Ukraine to train with her childhood coach after two years at the famed Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in France and, if she keeps winning this week, she has a chance to make history as no player from Ukraine has ever won the girls’ singles title at the US Open.
Lopatetskaya faces No 3 seed Xiyu Wang of China, who defeated No 9 seed Naho Sato of Japan 7-6(5) 6-2.
The other girls semi-final will feature Australian Open finalist Burel and 4th-seeded Maria Camila Osorio Serrano after the Colombian defeated 8-seeded Leylah Annie Fernandez of Canada, 3-6 6-3 6-2.
Both Wang and Fernandez were playing their second matches of the day, thanks to weather delays on Thursday that had halted their third-round matches.
Wang began Friday by completing her 6-1 6-1 demolition of 16-seeded American Lea Ma, and Fernandez had stopped Taisya Pachkaleva of Russia 6-2 7-6(4) before taking on Osorio Serrano.
Gauff is still in the running for a junior slam title in doubles, with three American teams reaching Saturday’s semi-finals.
Gauff & Caty McNally, the top seeds, will face No 5 seeds Joanna Garland of Taiwan & Moyuka Uchijima of Japan, while the American finalist will come from the winner of the match between wild cards Chloe Beck & Emma Navarro and Hailey Baptiste & Dalayna Hewitt.
In Boys’ play, Chun Hsin Tseng of Chinese Taipei showed why he is seeded No 1 as he moved into the semif-inals with a 7-6(0) 6-2 victory over Italy’s Giulio Zeppieri.
He will next face 6-seeded Thiago Seyboth Wild, who also had to win twice on Friday to reach the penultimate round.
Tseng was troubled midway through the opening set with his Italian opponent’s big serve, but he moved back to receive the delivery, and that, along with relaxing, paid off.
Although the unseeded Zeppieri pushed the top seed to a tiebreak in the first set, Tseng posted a perfect 7-0 to win the opener.
The second set caused him less trouble, and he won 73 percent of his first-serve points in the match.
“It was really a good match,” said Tseng, who is seeking his third straight Grand Slam title after conquering Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
He also reached the final of the Australian Open Juniors, but lost to American Sebastian Korda.
“I am really good from the baseline,” Tseng said when asked about his game. “And I like to finish points at the net. In the last couple of months I have improved my serve and my forehand a lot.”
Thiago Seyboth Wild completed his 6-4 6-1 win McHugh on Friday morning, the match having been interrupted the day before by late afternoon storms.
He returned later in the day to overcome Japan’s Taisei Ichikawa 7-6(3) 6-4 to grab the semi-final spot against Tseng, thus becoming the first Brazilian to ever make the junior semi-finals in Flushing Meadows.
Also playing twice on Friday was Poland’s Daniel Michalski, who defeated Antoine Cornut Chauvinc of France 3-6 6-2 6-4 before falling to Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti 6-4 6-0.
In the semi-finals, Musetti, who, like Lopatetskaya will be competing in Budapest later in the month, will take on American wildcard Jenson Brooksby, who defeated fellow American Brandon Nakashima, the fourteenth seed, 6-4 7-5.
As has been the case often this week, Brooksby fell behind early, but as usual, he brushed it off.
“I knew he’d come out motivated to change the last couple of times, and he sure did,” said the 17-year-old from Sacramento, who is playing in his first, and last, junior slam.
“He was playing really well, he moved me around, dictated points, every point he played pretty well at the start.”
After exchanging breaks early, Brooksby went up a break at 4-3, was broken right back, but got his third break of the set to go up 5-4 and closed out the set on his third set point.
The points often needed a dozen or more shots to decide, but with much cooler conditions after the extreme heat of previous days, neither player looked sapped in the aftermath of a long rally.
In the second set, with the lights on due to the heavy overcast skies, Brooksby took a 4-2 lead, but Nakashima won the next 3 games and was building some momentum toward winning his first set against Brooksby.
Brooksby had an easy hold serving 4-5 down, broke Nakashima in the next game and converted his first match point with a forehand winner in the corner to secure the victory.
“He had momentum there,” Brooksby said. “He won the last three games I believe, so it was important to get the first couple points of that game, get an easier hold for sure and get the momentum back in my favour.”
One American team has reached the boys doubles semi-finals, Emilio Nava 7 Axel Nefve, who will play Jesper De Jong of the Netherlands & Damien Wenger of Switzerland.
The other boys doubles semi-final features Musetti & Zeppieri of Italy against Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria & Anton Matusevich of Great Britain.
None of the boys doubles semi-finalists are seeded.