Wimbledon Juniors | Draper, Matusevich and Raducanu make quarters
Britain’s Jack Draper continued his fine run in the Boys Junior Championships at Wimbledon, although it took a mighty effort against the American 11th Seed, Tristan Boyer.
His compatriots, too, Anton Matusevich in the boys and Emma Raducanu in the girls, successfully reached the quarter-finals.
It is the first time since 2010 that there are three British players in the quarter-finals of the junior singles events.
My dad got me into tennis, You're going to be a professional sportsman. Anton Matusevich
Draper, the 16-year-old son of the former LTA Chief Executive Roger Draper who was born in Sutton, just 6 miles away from the All England Club, had a much tougher time with Boyer on Thursday than he did in the first round of Roehampton, but the Brit came through with a huge forehand winner at 5-6 30-all in the third set, and converted his match point when Boyer sent a backhand wide.
He meets Lorenzo Musetti of Italy, winner over France’s Hugo Gastion, 7-5 6-7(2) 6-1, in the quarters.
Wild card Matusevich is the 17-year-old son of Russian parents and the grandson of Mikhail Gorbachev’s interpreter, who learned by hitting the ball against the wall in his house and is determined to finish his A levels before turning pro, beat Otto Virtanen 6-1 6-3 to reach the last eight as well.
“My dad got me into tennis,” he said. “You’re going to be a professional sportsman.
“That’s it. My mum’s the complete opposite. She’s very educational, which is why I still go to school. My maternal granddad was an interpreter for Gorbachev and my grandma used to teach Russian language so they’re really clever people.”
He is pretty academic too, with eight A stars, three As and a B in his GCSEs to his credit, in maths, further maths and economics.
Asked who his tennis idols are he replied: “Me. I like myself. I didn’t really bother looking anyone else. I like the game. The game was the idol, not a player. I just really loved it. I watch like pretty much all matches. I think it’s good to just know what’s going on.”
Unseeded Draper, who battled through Boyer 6-7(1) 6-3 7-5, is a close friend of Matusevich, despite being rivals, and they have both ended up at Bromley Tennis Club .
“I’ve known Jack Draper since I was a kid,” said Matusevich. “At one point he beat me ten times in a row at Under 10s and I was very angry. I’m currently on a three-match winning streak with him but we haven’t played in a year or so. He’s a very good friend of mine.”
15-year-old Emma Raducanu, is a Toronto-born tomboy who idolises former Chinese Grand Slam champion Li Na.
She led the British charge on Thursday with a 7-5 6-4 win over Joanna Garland, who was born in the UK but represents Chinese Taipei.
Raducanu has a Romanian father and a Chinese mother, and her family moved to Britain when she was two.
“We didn’t have tennis in mind,” she said. “It just started from there. My parents were taking lessons at a local park and they dragged me along…
“I really didn’t like tennis at the beginning. My dad was kind of forcing me to play but then when I started competing, I always had this competitive edge in me and I love fighting and I especially love when it gets really gritty because I think that’s when my true personality comes out.”
In the quarters she next takes on Iga Swiatek of Poland, who beat top seed Whitney Osuigwe in the opening round and took out the 6th seed Clara Burel of France, 6-1 6-2, on Day 8.
There are growing numbers in the girls ranks who are hoping to emulate the Grand Slam successes of national hero Li Na, led by Xinyu Wang, seeded 4th in the singles and sharing top billing in the doubles with her namesake Xiyu Wang.
The imposing pair logged three wins between them on Wednesday, with each advancing in straight sets in the singles before successfully combining in the doubles opening round.
Xinyu is seeded No 6 and defeated Italian Elisabetta Cocciaretto, 6-1 6-3, to set up a quarter-final appointment with Ukrainian Viktoriia Dema,
“She plays pretty flat. I think she can do good on grass because it’s low and I will just try to focus on my serving game and just go for it,’’ Xinyu said.
“Actually grass is not my favourite surface. I prefer hard, but I just really like it here at Wimbledon, because I like how the tournament is and then people are coming to watch and I like the weather and the strawberries and everything here.
“I think I’m doing a good job here and getting used to the grass better every day.’’
Left-handed Xiyu, the 10th seed, meets French Open champion Cori Gauff for a place in the semis but has already achieved her pre-tournament ambition.
“It’s my second time to come here and I think it’s better than last year,” she said. “Last year I lost first round. My goal for this tournament is quarter-final, and now is there, so I will continue to go more. I try my best.’’
Americans Caty McNally, seeded 13, and the No 3-seeded Gauff both had to come from a set down in their third round wins.
McNally had all manner of trouble with her serve, with 12 double faults in the first two sets, but she managed to hang on after a losing a big lead in the second set to come away with a 1-6 7-6(4) 6-1 win over Qinwen Zheng of China.
“I was having a really hard time with my serve, that was the main thing,” said the 16-year-old from Cincinnati, who is playing in her third Wimbledon. “And that was kind of mentally breaking me down and that was affecting everything else in my game.”
Up 4-1 and serving in the second set, McNally lost five of the next six games, although she had five break points with Zheng serving at 5-all. But the next game propelled McNally to a new level.
“In the second set, I think I found more rhythm towards the end and when I was able to hold at love 5-6 down, that gave me some confidence,” McNally said. “I served a lot better the rest of the match and my game followed.”
In Thursday’s quarter-finals, McNally will play qualifier Leonie Kung of Switzerland, who defeated No 9 seed Yuki Naito of Japan, 6-3 6-3.
“I lost to her twice this year, when I went to Martinique and Guadeloupe and I lost to her both times,” said McNally, who is still an amateur and right now does not have a timetable regarding turning pro.
“I played with her in doubles at the Grade A in Milan, so I know her game.”
Gauff found herself coming to the net often against No 15 seed Maria Carle of Argentina, but some of that was necessitated by Carle’s slices, volleys and short angles.
The American struggled on serve in the first set, getting broken twice, and she had no aces in the match, an unusual statistic for her.
In the second set, Gauff managed a break at 4-5 with great anticipation to reflex a volley winner back at Carle, and in the third set, the 14-year-old Floridian was more adept at keeping Carle on defence.
Leading 3-1, Gauff saved a break point with a great forehand, and her serve came though late in the game, giving her some breathing room against Carle.
After holding at love for a 5-2 lead, Gauff was relentless in Carle’s service game, breaking at love and finishing with a return winner.
Gauff will face No 10 seed Xiyu Wang of China, who defeated the other American girl in the third round, Lea Ma, 6-2 6-4.
Back to the boys event, Chun Hsin Tseng’s dream was to complete the Wimbledon singles double with Roger Federer, the man whose birthday he shares, but the top-seeded pair’s paths diverged dramatically on Wednesday, the 16-year-old from Chinese Taipei having stormed into the junior quarter-finals long before Federer was sensationally dumped from the same stage of the men’s draw.
“Roger is a legend of the tennis, and hopefully I can win Wimbledon with him together,’’ Tseng had said of a scenario that can no longer occur this year – and nor will it be happening next.
By then, Tseng will have fully graduated to senior ranks, having already won his first Futures tournament in April in Vietnam.
For the rest of 2018, his junior schedule is being limited to the Grand Slams, the Youth Olympics and the ITF Junior Masters that comes in October at the end of the Road to Chengdu.
So far, so exceptional, a finals loss to Sebastian Korda at the Australian Open redeemed by his success in the title match at Roland Garros against Sebastian Baez of Argentina.
Both those rivals made early exits from Wimbledon, with 4th seed Hugo Gaston the latest to fall, beaten by Lorenzo Musetti of Italy in three sets, 7-5 6-7(2) 6-1.
Tseng, by contrast, has dropped just 16 games in three rounds and only three were conceded in his 6-2 6-1 win on Wednesday over Czech qualifier Ondrej Styler.
London is a long way from Chinese Taipei, but not so far from the World No 1’s other training base, the Mouratoglou Academy in France.
He likes the grass, having improved vastly since his first round loss at the All England Club last year.
“I think my fitness is a lot better because I have my private fitness coach now and I move faster on the court and everything and I think also my serve is getting improved now,’’ said Tseng.
Kei Nishikori has long been the poster boy for Asian men’s tennis, but Korean Hyeon Chung’s run to the Australian Open semi-finals is another positive sign.
“I think that gives more people in Asia confidence,’’ he said.
American Trey Hilderbrand started yet another dry and partly sunny day in Southwest London with a surprisingly easy first five games against unseeded Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain.
In 16 minutes, the 18-year-old Texan had a 5-0 lead, with Alvarez struggling to get his first serve in, and Hilderbrand charging the net at every opportunity.
Hilderbrand, who also returned well when Alvarez did get his first serve in, was up 6-1, 5-0 and had two match points on Alvarez’s serve.
The 17-year-old from Spain, who had changed his strategy and started serving and volleying down 3-0 in the second set, hit a second serve ace to save the first match point and on the second hit a volley that Hilderbrand got to, but was unable to execute the passing shot.
Alvarez went on to get his first hold of the match, then broke Hilderbrand with more aggressive grass court tennis to make it 5-2.
Serving for match again at 5-3, Hilderbrand went down 30-40, but he got a first serve in that Alvarez couldn’t handle.
Alvarez earned another break point after a put-away at the net, but after Hilderbrand was called for a foot fault on his first serve, Alvarez couldn’t get the second serve in play.
That mistake proved costly, with Hilderbrand hitting an ace to earn his third match point, which he converted with another big first serve.
“I was thinking, let’s just see if you can hold one game,” said Hilderbrand, who won 38 of his 59 net approaches.
“I hit some pretty good serves to get me out of the game. I kept telling myself, one point at a time, let’s play a solid point and see if he can beat you.”
Up 6-1 5-0, Hilderbrand had to fight thinking ahead to the quarter-finals.
“I probably did think about that a little bit at 5-3, but I just tried to get that out of my head and focus on my match,” said Hilderbrand, who will begin his college career at Central Florida next month. “I knew it still wasn’t over, and obviously, he came back.”
Hilderbrand will now face the top seed Tseng, one of only two seeded boys remaining in the draw.
In the bottom half of the boys draw, No 5 seed Nicolas Mejia of Colombia will face Gilbert Soares Klier Junior, who has followed up his first round win over No 2 seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina with two more straight-sets win.
Mejia ended Kingsley’s tournament with a 7-6(3) 7-5 third round win.