US Open Juniors | Wang and Seyboth Wild write junior history
Proving a lifesaver for the junior finals played on the new Louis Armstrong Stadium with the roof closed, the junior boy and girls championships were decided on Sunday as steady rain came down outside in New York.
Brazil’s Thiago Seyboth Wild, the No 6 seed, ended his junior career with victory over unseeded Lorenzo Musetti of Italy, 6-1 2-6 6-2, for the Junior Boys’ singles crown while, seeded 3rd, the highest seed left in the tournament, Xiyu Wang took the Girls’ singles beating Clara Burel of France 7-6(4) 6-2.
18-year-old Seyboth Wild became the first player from his country to win a junior Grand Slam title after a high-quality finale, rallying from a break down in the third set.
I felt like I had myself under control. Not the match, but myself. It was like, OK, I've got to do my thing. I've got to play my best and let the results come Thiago Seyboth Wild
Seyboth Wild won the last five games of the first set to take the opener in just 18 minutes, breaking in the second and third Musetti service games to grab the early advantage.
It took that long for the Italian to settle down and he finally found the court with his ground strokes, especially his sliced backhand.
“He was slicing every single backhand,” Seyboth Wild said. “I was, like, Okay, now I can’t be that aggressive. I’ll have to keep crossing till I get a shorter ball or maybe a mistake from him, something like that.”
Musetti, who had started slicing his backhand instead of taking full hacks with his one-hander, forced a decider with a pair of breaks at 3-2 and 5-2 in the second set, and seized his second break point of the third set to take a 2-0 lead.
“I felt like I had myself under control,” said Seyboth Wild, who mentioned that meditation prior to the match helped him keep his nerves in check.
“Not the match, but myself. It was like, OK, I’ve got to do my thing. I’ve got to play my best and let the results come.”
Seyboth Wild made the necessary adjustments, and broke three times in a row in reeling off the final five games to seal the title.
“I had a break point … at two-all, 30-40. He served second serve wide, and then [I] literally just slapped a ball out of the court,” Seyboth Wild said.
“That just turned my head upside down. I was, like, ‘Why did I do that?’ I kept thinking about it for three or four games.
“When I lost my serve in the third set, he was 2-0 up, I was like, ‘OK, I will start running, try to do something different.'”
Those tactical changes, plus a visible increase in effort, proved to be the difference in the match.
While Musetti was disappointed with not being able to hang on to his third-set lead, he was happy with the way he played this week in New York.
“I think first set he played so good, he didn’t miss one shot,” Musetti said.
“Only winners, so I couldn’t do anything. Then I started to change my game to make him miss, and he started to miss.
“It’s OK. It was a great run here, and I’m a little sad, but it’s OK. I think he played over his level and over mine.
“He played so good. All the winners, I couldn’t do anything. I’m proud of myself. Now not so much, but when I get home, I’ll be proud of me. I think this let me train more and more to get the trophy. I didn’t have the feeling that I could play like this. I’m happy to discover it.”
The Italian said he will play the Junior Davis Cup and the Youth Olympic Games, but “I don’t think I’ll play Orange Bowl.”
Seboth Wild’s first junior Grand Slam title comes after the disappointment of losing both the singles and doubles semi-finals in Paris four months ago.
“Being in the semi-final of a Grand Slam, it’s already a huge thing to be done,” he said.
“I felt like I want it more because I wasn’t satisfied with that semi-final. I was injured during the match, and I was out of practice, out of tennis, for three weeks because I couldn’t rise my arm. I couldn’t do anything.
“When I got here this week, I was, like, ‘OK, this is it. I gotta do it now.’ I just focused on myself and my tennis. I just kept everything simple.”
Instead of playing junior tournaments, the Brazilian has been testing the professional waters in Futures events.
“I think that I just gotta keep working because now my junior career is over,” he said.
One last Junior event Seyboth Wild may still play in is the ITF Junior Masters, which will take place at the end of October in Chengdu, China.
The top eight boys and girls in the world are invited to play for a chance to win the trophy, and also gain valuable rankings points in the quest to become the ITF Junior World Champion, the highest ranked player at the end of the year.
After his win here in New York, Seyboth Wild is well-placed to succeed once again.
As for becoming the first Brazilian to win the US Open boys title, Seyboth Wild acknowledges that it will be important in Brazil, but that a higher level of competition awaits.
“It’s another title we got, it’s another title I got, and I think I just got to keep working because now my junior career is over, I don’t think I’ll play anything else,” said Seyboth Wild, who was not selected for the Youth Olympics.
“But the transition to the pros, it’s a lot harder than the juniors. I think I have to focus on that from now on.”
Silverware was also handed out in the boys’ doubles on Sunday, with Britain’s Anton Matusevich and his Bulgarian partner, Adrian Andreev, defeating the American duo of Emilio Nava & Axel Nefve, 6-4 2-6 [10-8].
“It’s my first doubles title, so it’s a pretty good first title to win,” said Matusevich.
“We’re actually both singles players, so it means a bit, but not like a lot to us. It’s good experience, and it’s good because it’s a Grand Slam. That’s the main thing.”
While the singles finalists were in a world class venue on Armstrong, the weather was less kind to the doubles finalists, who were sent behind closed doors at the indoor courts of the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, most of which are used for corporate hospitality during the US Open.
Six courts, however, are available for competition, with the boys championship first on the schedule there on Sunday, when it was determined the rain would not allow outdoor play.
Matusevich and Andreev broke in the third game of the match and captured the first set on their first set point after previously saving four break points at 4-3.
The Americans rallied back behind consecutive breaks at 3-2 and 5-2, forcing a 10-point match tiebreak.
Andreev and Matusevich were down 6-5, with the Americans set to serve the next two points, but they responded by capturing those next two points and claiming five of the final seven.
With a 9-6 lead in the match tiebreaker, Matusevich & Andreev saw Nefve hold both his serves to put the pressure back on the Brit.
He missed his first serve, but Nava was unable to get the second serve return back in play.
“The courts are really bouncy and I kicked the serve in,” Matusevich said. “It bounces away, it doesn’t go in a straight line. I think he mistimed it.”
“We are fighting for every point, trying our best, and I think that’s the most important thing in every sport; it’s how much you want to win,” added Andreev.
“If you fight every point, you have more chances to win the tournament, for sure. But we did not expect to win the tournament.”
“We just had fun and we play for every point,” said Andreev, also 17. “We were trying our best, and I think that’s the most important thing in every sport is how much you want to win.”
“I really didn’t want to lose,” Matusevich added.
Xiyu Wang overcame early nerves to wrap up a stellar junior season with the 2018 US Open girls’ singles title on Sunday.
The third-seeded Wang defeated No 11 seed Clara Burel of France, 7-6 6-2, inside Louis Armstrong Stadium, to put a cap on a fantastic year that included a run to the semi-finals at Wimbledon as well as quarter-finals appearances in both Paris and Melbourne.
“In the first set I was a little bit nervous,” Wang said. “But I try to get used to in the big court, try to enjoy this match. Yeah, it’s only happy. I think maybe my mom is cry.”
A native of Jiangsu, China, Wang lost her serve to begin the match, but she broke Burel back in the 4th game and 8th games.
Serving for the opening set, Wang was broken in a game that had three deuces.
Burel, who lives in Perros-Guirec, France, was a finalist at the Australian Open in January.
She held for 5-5, then broke Wang again at 15, giving her a 6-5 lead, but the left-hander proved the steadier and broke back to send the set into a tiebreak, where Wang was victorious 7-4.
Burel couldn’t highlight a definitive turning point in the match, instead focusing on the final sequence of events in an up-and-down opener.
“Maybe the whole end of the first set and the tiebreak,” she said. “It was the most important moment of the match, that’s for sure. That was the key of the match. I know if I won this tiebreak it will be maybe better.”
Wang earned a break in the third game of the second set for a 2-1 advantage, and she gave herself extra breathing room with a second break at 4-2.
Burel saved the first break point at 15-40 in the seventh game, but she sprayed a forehand wide, handing Wang a decisive 5-2 lead that allowed her to serve out the championship.
“I’m not very proud of me because I lost in the final, but a good week and I will try to stay positive,” Burel said after the match.
“Even if I lost this final, it was a great match. We played both well. It’s a great season. I made two finals, but I’m still disappointed to lose in my second Grand Slam final.”
The 17-year-old from China said she tried not to think about the losses in the other Grand Slams this year, instead trying to focus on each opponent.
“I’m not think too much because just try to play my game and play every point,” said Wang, who said this was her final junior Slam before she transitions to the main WTA Tour in 2019. “Different kind of opponent.”
In winning the US Junior Girls title, Xiyu Wang became the first Chinese girl to win a Junior Grand Slam.
“I watch some match about Li Na,” said Wang, who is on the Youth Olympic Games entry list but will concentrate on pro tennis after this title.
“She gave me something experience to play the final, like, because she played Australian Open final. Tried to watch some match about her.”
Wang didn’t show much emotion when she clinched the match, with a clenched left fist the extent of it her emotion, although she said she was ‘only happy’ on match point, and shared a hug with those in her box.
“Maybe tonight I going to eat a good [meal] with my team to celebrate, yeah,” Wang said.
In the girls’ all-American doubles finale, Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff & Caty McNally beat Hailey Baptiste & Dalayna Hewitt, 6-3 6-2, to win the championship in only their second tournament together.
“It means so much, especially because it’s like a home Slam for both of us,” said McNally, who previously lost the junior doubles final with Whitney Osuigwe and won the French Open girls’ doubles title with Iga Swiatek.
“I’ve never done that well I feel like at this tournament, but this year I did better than I did last year in singles and in doubles so I’m really happy we could take the title.”
For Gauff, who beat her doubles partner in singles play at Roland-Garros in May, the win gives her a second major title, after she won the girls’ singles title in Paris.
“The US Open is my favourite Slam, I always have good results here in New York,” said Gauff, who reached the singles final last summer.
“I was super-excited when we won because I really didn’t want to let Caty down, because she’s unreal. I felt like I did step my game up to level up with her.”
Gauff & McNally broke three times in each set, dominating from the beginning despite being broken twice in the opener and once in the second set.
Gauff double-faulted three times with a 4-1 lead in the second, but the pair, who first played together at the Maureen Connolly Challenge Trophy in Eastbourne, England, broke right back before serving out the match.
“I thought we played really well today,” McNally said. “We did a good job, especially when we got the breaks to back it up by holding serve. I think we were more aggressive and that helped a lot.”
Added 14-year-old Gauff: “I was nervous and Caty was great, she was telling me to calm down and relax, we were still up in the lead. She was good, calming me down, and I was able to play my game.”