London, Sept 2, 2013: The final junior Grand Slam of the year got underway on Sunday as the world’s top junior players began their bids for US Open glory at Flushing Meadows. Belinda Bencic, the current Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion, heads an impressive field in the girls’ event and may take some stopping in New York.
The 16-year-old Swiss will be looking to better her third round exit at the 2012 US Open and add a third junior Grand Slam to her already impressive trophy haul from 2013. Croatia’s Ana Konjuh, who successfully opened her bid with a battling 57 64 64 win against Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko on Sunday, has had many strong showings on the 2013 circuit, with the first junior Grand Slam title of her career coming at the Australian Open in January.
Konjuh followed her January triumph with semifinal finishes at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and will be hoping to end her ITF Junior career on a real high before she focusses on the pro-circuit. The highest-ranked American in the girls’ event is Taylor Townsend, the No. 6 seed. The 2012 Junior World Champion and Junior Wimbledon runner-up will be keen to make the most of the home support as she targets her first Grand Slam title since winning the 2012 Australian Open.
Several of the top-ranked juniors are targeting their maiden Grand Slam singles title, including Czech Katerina Siniakova. The No. 3 seed is the current Roland Garros and Wimbledon doubles champion but is still looking for that elusive Grand Slam singles title. World No. 2 Alexander Zverev headlines the boys’ event.
The top-seeded German reached this year’s Roland Garros final as well as claiming his first Grade A title at the Italian Open, but will need to improve his form after a slow lead up to the US Open, suffering a third round defeat at the Canadian Open Junior Championships, if he is to be in with a chance of claiming the world No. 1 ranking.
Second seed Gianluigi Quinzi won the junior title at Wimbledon just a couple of months ago and will be keen to get his hands on another Grand Slam title. Quinzi has spent much of the year playing on the ITF Futures circuit where he has achieved a current ATP ranking of No. 390, the highest among the juniors at Flushing Meadows, and will hope these experiences stand him in good stead during the week. Chile’s Christian Garin is another of the current Grand Slam title holders and will be a strong contender for the title at Flushing Meadows.
The junior Roland Garros champion has been in fine form on his preferred surface of clay, but will now look to assert himself on the hard courts in an effort to secure a second Grand Slam title and move up the rankings into the top five. —- Photo: Susan Mullane
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