Top seeds Lorenzo Musetti and Clara Tauson were crowned the Australian Open 2019 junior champions on Saturday, with Denmark’s Tauson maintaining her impressive unbeaten streak to claim the girls’ singles title, and Musetti saving a championship point before clinching a deciding 10-point tiebreak in the boys’ singles final.
The 16-year-olds both claimed their victories on Rod Laver Arena (RLA), Tauson downing Canada’s Leylah Annie Fernandez 6-4 6-3 before Musetti fought back to beat No.13 seed Emilio Nava 4-6 6-2 7-6(12).
“I feel like it was a big court,” Tauson said, who also took time to adjust to playing on such a grand stage. “We haven’t played on it, either of us, so I think both of us were nervous.
“She was playing really good in the beginning. I feel like I won because I kept fighting and try to get my emotions, keep my emotions.”
Tauson dropped the first set of the tournament 6-1 to Australian wildcard Anastasia Berezov, and didn’t drop another en route to the title – though she admitted she thought her unbeaten streak may well have ended in the first round at Melbourne Park.
“I wasn’t expecting actually to win here after the first round, but I kept working hard and had some tough matches in the beginning. I got through it, so I’m very happy about that. The start of the year has been good for me, of course. I’m not thinking too much about if I never lose a match in juniors anymore, because I will. I’m very happy about the last 12 matches.”
Tauson came out with the odd break in three at the midpoint of the opening set before breaking Fernandez four times in succession in the second, throwing her hands to her head as she looked to her father Soeren, who is also her coach, after sealing victory in 66 minutes.
“I was just happy, thinking I can’t believe I won,” said Tauson, who is Denmark’s first junior champion since Caroline Wozniacki won the Wimbledon girls’ title in 2006. “I was thinking about my mom at home – she hasn’t slept in a week, almost two weeks. [And] my little sister. She’s still up, actually.”
Musetti and Nava took to court following Dylan Alcott’s quad wheelchair triumph, the American watched by two-time Australian Open champion Ivan Lendl – who had invited him to a USTA training squad in 2018.
Nava, the cousin of ATP player Ernesto Escobedo, struck first in the final, claiming the only break of the opener to move in front after 37 minutes – the first time Musetti had dropped a set in the tournament. But the Italian, runner-up at last year’s US Open, stormed back in the second, breaking twice to even things up and send the match into a decider.
Neither player budged on serve in the third, sending the final into a deciding tiebreak in this, the first year that players play to 10 points in the final set in all draws. Still neither player gave an inch, Nava fighting back from 3-5 down to move within two points of the title at 8-7.
But it was Musetti who reached championship point first, Nava rallying brilliantly to save three in succession before holding his own at 12-11. From there, however, Musetti rattled off three points in succession, falling to the court when the American sent a forehand long.
“I was not thinking, I was just playing – living every point,” Musetti said of the final few points. “It was a fantastic tiebreak. Also, Emilio played really good and he saved, like, three match points. Yeah, it was a fantastic tiebreak. Match point, it was unbelievable.
“I had a lot of pressure since the first rounds, but I got a lot of experience last year in New York, so I knew how to manage the pressure and the feelings of the final.
“Today was a crazy match. The first set was really tough, second set was really good – he went down a little bit – but third set was really a fight, and I’m very happy to win my first Slam.”
Source: Michael Beattie