Wimbledon Day 13 | Another title for Spain
It was a great weekend for Spain at Wimbledon 2017, for not only did Garbiñe Muguruza win the ladies singles on Saturday but Alejandro Davidovich Fokina took the boys title after a gap of 50 years and becoming the first Spanish Wimbledon boys champion since Manuel Orantes in 1967, and only the second overall.
I want to win this. I want to show to the people who I am, that I want to play tennis, professional tennis. I want to show them what I want to do with my life. I was thinking, OK, you be yourself, and just enjoy Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
Davidovich lost in the first round at the Wimbledon Junior Championships last year, going out in three sets to current ITF Junior No 1 Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, but found impressive form this time round, the 18-year-old from Spain marching through the draw without dropping a set and taking a 7-6(2) 6-3 win over Axel Geller of Argentina in the final.
Geller made some history of his own by reaching both the boys singles final and winning the doubles championship.
Back home in Buenos Aires, social networks were bombarding him with goodwill messages.
To call these two strapping 18-year olds ‘boys’ seems somewhat inappropriate since they both are towering young men who possess big games and consistently serve over 120mph deliveries.
Geller, in fact, was the quickest server of the competition, reaching 135mph, while Davidovich struck his hardest at 129mph.
The blonde haired Spaniard is an interesting character, of Russian extraction and coming from Malaga, who has immaculate groundstrokes but plays with some subtlety and has a steely determination.
After his semi-final win over Patrick Kypson on Saturday, Davidovich said he would not allow himself to think about the occasion until 30 minutes before Sunday’s final, so when he walked out onto No 1 Court on an overcast but dry afternoon, he began to appreciate the opportunity he had to entertain the seven or eight thousand fans witnessing his first junior Grand Slam final.
Both players had to contend with playing on this, the biggest court of their lives on the most important day of their fledgling careers.
“I was thinking, OK, I will not think about that,” said Davidovich, the No 8 seed.
“I will think, I want to win this. I want to show to the people who I am, that I want to play tennis, professional tennis. I want to show them what I want to do with my life. I was thinking, OK, you be yourself, and just enjoy.”
Davidovich got off to a quick start, breaking the big-serving Geller in the opening game.
What was to prove an evenly contested first set for the most part, suddenly became one-sided in the tie break and the second set as the Spaniard dominated a wilting opponent, who had complained of feeling tired even before his first singles match.
Nevertheless, Geller had fought his way through to the final day in both singles and doubles and didn’t get back to his hotel until 11.30pm after his doubles semi-final on Friday because of press commitments and recovery treatment, but refused to use that as an excuse for his eventual defeat.
“I was really tired, but it’s not an excuse,” said Geller, who averaged 127 mph on his first serve and had one clock in at 135 at 3-all in the first set. “He deserved to win. He returned very well.
“He got some of my big first serves back with very good returns, to be honest. That’s why he broke in the first game, because I was surprised at his returns.”
Geller managed to get the break back in the sixth game, and held in a tense, well-played seventh, which not only included that 135 mph serve after a double fault, but also some brave shotmaking when he was down two break points.
After two more close and entertaining games gave Geller a 5-4 lead, three easy holds led to the tie break, which Davidovich dominated.
“In the tiebreak, I think I push more the game, I push him more to attack him,” said Davidovich, who didn’t miss a first serve in taking a 5-1 lead.
“He made a few big, big returns and I feel like he went for the tie break more than I did,” Geller said.
“I missed my first serve and he didn’t, so that’s an advantage for him, and I was really, really tired too.”
Geller, who won the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton last Friday, then took a medical timeout for his back before serving at 1-2 in the second set and holding serve in the next two games, but Davidovich got the crucial break at 4-3, with a big backhand giving him a break point and immediately converting it by forcing an error from the Argentine.
Davidovich closed confidently, and his willingness to close the net when sensing an advantage continued, even under the stress of serving for the championship.
At 30-all, he forced another error from Geller, and sealed his 7-6(2) 6-3 victory with a superb backhand drop shot, and he celebrated by running to his box to hug his coaches and girl friend.
“Now I’m very happy to be the second junior champion at Wimbledon,” said Davidovich, who has not decided whether he will enter the US Open Junior Championships, but did express a desire to finish as the ITF World Junior Champion in 2017.
“Like, I’m in shock. I’m not thinking about that I win. I don’t have time to realise…”
Geller, who does plan on playing the US Open Junior Championships prior to starting his freshman year at Stanford, felt that fatigue may have been a factor in his inability to force a third set.
“It was a good match, I’m just a bit sad that I couldn’t finish winning,” Geller admitted later.
“Today I was not 100 percent, but that’s not an excuse, and I gave everything I had, but he was better.”
“Later on I was talking with him,” Davidovich said.
“I say, ‘Man, you serve so hard, I can’t see the ball’. [It] was like I was facing [Ivo] Karlovic. I don’t know what he is doing with his serve.”
Davidovich could eventually join the ranks of an exclusive group of junior boy champions who went on to win the senior title, including Bjorn Borg, Pat Cash, Stefan Edberg and Roger Federer.
Alex Geller did end the day as a Wimbledon champion, however, winning the Boys’ Doubles title with Yu Hsiou Hsu of Taiwan.
The second-seeded pair defeated the No 3 seeds, Jurij Rodionov of Austria and Michael Vrbensky of the Czech Republic, 6-4 6-4, in the late afternoon final.
Hsu and Geller had not played together prior to Roehampton, where they went out in the first round to eventual champions Sebastian Korda and Colombia’s Nicolas Mejia.
At Wimbledon they managed to develop as a team, winning during their week at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
“The first time, we didn’t communicate very well,” Hsu said, with the assistance of an interpreter.
“We were just trying to keep talking every day, to make ourselves more connected.”
Geller agreed that it took time to find their form: “Our first match was a disaster. We had no chemistry as a team…but we found a way to start playing better.
“He is a bit like, silent, and my former partner, we used to be so pumped, so I was used to that.
“But [Hsu] started shouting more on the big points and everything, and I think that was important, [and] he played so well after. At the net, he’s unbelievable.”
Geller and Hsu broke Vrbensky to take a 4-3 lead and held easily in their next two service games to take the set.
In the second, Geller and Hsu broke Vrbensky in the first game and again the next time he served, after he had been up 40-15 and 40-0 in both.
Geller served out the match, 6-4 6-4, maintaining his form of not dropping his serve in doubles in any of their five victories.
Asked if winning the doubles compensated for the loss of his singles final, Geller said: “It does a bit, it’s so different though.
“I’m happy in like a different dimension, I don’t know how to explain it.”
Hsu is a member of the International 18 and Under ITF/GSDF Teams to Europe.
The girls doubles championship went to the unseeded team of Olga Danilovic of Serbia and Kaja Juvan of Slovenia, who beat the American No 4 seeds Caty McNally and Whitney Osuigwe, 6-4 6-3.
Danilovic and Juvan got the only break of the first set to take a 5-3 lead and served it out, then broke Osuigwe in the opening game of the second set on their way to a 5-1 lead.
McNally and Osuigwe broke Juvan serving for the match at 5-2, but Juvan and Danilovic broke Osuigwe to earn the title.
Juvan and Danilovic had played together only once before, and that resulted in a first round loss at the 2016 Australian Open Junior Championships, but their common language and game styles proved a perfect combination at Wimbledon.
“We speak the same language and our coaches, they make some plans before every match, we talk about it,” Juvan said.
“We were really prepared for every match,” Danilovic added.
Although Danilovic won the French Open girls doubles title in 2016 with Paula Arias Manjon of Spain, the 16-year-old left-hander was happy to reunite with Juvan despite their lack of success in Australia.
“She knows really good how to play doubles, and that’s the most important thing,” Danilovic said.
“She’s really good at understanding doubles and me as well, and I think we managed to do what we know to do, and I think that was more than enough.”
“From the first match, we knew we played good,” Juvan said.
“We beat some good opponents so I think that’s when we started to believe we could win this tournament.”
Danilovic and Juvan said they played their best match in the final, an Osuigwe and McNally agreed.
“We’ve watched them play all week, and this was definitely the best they’ve played,” Osuigwe said.
“We played really well yesterday, I thought” said McNally, recalling their 6-2 6-2 win over top seeds Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine and Carson Branstine of Canada.
“They were a really tough team yesterday, but today, they just played really well, just were really solid.”
McNally, who also lost in last year’s Wimbledon girls doubles final playing with Mariam Bolkvadze of Georgia, is now looking ahead to the hard court season.
“I’m not going to think about this anymore,” said McNally.
“I’m going to put it in the past. It’s a good result. Now we’re going to focus on Hard Courts. That’s our main goal right now, to win it.”
Juvan is not planning on playing the US Open juniors this year, but Danilovic hopes they’ll find time to take the courts again together soon.
“When we’re at the same tournaments, for sure we will be playing, because we’re the Wimbledon champs,” Danilovic said.
“In pros, there are a lot of tournaments, so you’re not always going to the same ones.”
On Saturday Claire Liu won the Junior Girls’ Singles Championships, defeating fellow-American Ann Li, 6-2 5-7 6-2 in the final.