27
Jan
11

The Australian Open Junior semi-final match-ups were decided at Melbourne Park on Thursday.

World No 1 Jiri Vesely will take on Orange Bowl winner George Morgan while Luke Saville flies the flag for Australia against Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain in the boys’ event. Second seed An-Sophie Mestach faces Caroline Garcia of France and Monica Puig takes on Eugenie Bouchard of Canada in the girls’ singles. Vesely continued his smooth progress through the draw with a 62 62 win over American Mitchell Krueger but can expect a tougher match against Britain’s Morgan, who ground out a 57 62 63 victory over Jeson Patrombon of the Philippines. On probably the hottest day of the junior competition to date, Morgan needed all of his battling qualities to fend off a strong rally by Patrombon, who recovered from 40 in the third set to get back to 43. Morgan, kitted out in a black shirt, was looking tired after going to 108 in his previous match against Mate Delic but held his nerve to clinch victory with a fine forehand pass. “It was my only clean shirt,” Morgan said, “but I am definitely going to wear white tomorrow.” “It was probably one of my worst matches but I thought it’s probably the best I’ve fought this tournament, so it’s mostly my fight that won me the match. I was obviously getting a bit nervous towards the end and just wanted to make balls. It wasn’t the best standard but I was pleased the way I fought. It was a nice shot to finish.” “I’ve never had two such close matches (back-to-back) and fought through them like that so I am learning quite a lot and improving mentally.”

Australian Saville beat Lucas Pouille of France 75 75 while sixth seed Carballes Baena took out American Mac Styslinger 63 62. No 2 seed Mestach saw off Danka Kovinic of Montenegro 62 63 while eighth seed Garcia of France was too strong for fourth seed Irina Khromacheva, winning through 61 63. The remaining semi-final will be between fifth seed Puig, a 75 62 winner over American Christina Makarova, and No 14 Bouchard, who continued to storm through the draw by beating Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia 62 63. Until Thursday, Bouchard had dropped no more than three games in any match but though she let slip a couple more against Schmiedlova, she was in complete control and could be the favourite to win the title. The 16-year-old Canadian trained with Andre Agassi’s former fitness trainer, Gil Reyes, and his old coach Darren Cahill, before Christmas as part of the Adidas Development Programme. And the hard works seems to be reaping rewards. “Every day, I did about two hours in the gym with Gil,” she said. “I did a lot of stretching and strengthening work. He is a really good motivator and I learned a lot about other things like how to eat well and look after myself. I did weights, squats and footwork drills and then I’d play tennis after. I was really sore every day but it’s paid off. I feel stronger and I can hit the ball harder.” When she first visited Las Vegas last March, Bouchard even had the pleasure of meeting Andre Agassi and hitting with his wife, the former world No 1 Steffi Graf. Not surprisingly, she hopes she gets the chance to go back. “I hit with Steffi for like half an hour, which was a great experience,” she said. “She blew me off the court, it was so tough. She is still hitting the ball amazingly well.” And Bouchard revealed that the German had given her a few tips. “I was training with Darren Cahill on the court and working out next to Fernando Verdasco. But Steffi said to work hard – she is the strict German type – so she just told me to work hard and keep believing you can do it.”

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