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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Davidovich Fokina Captures Wimbledon Boys Title; Geller and Hsu, Juvan and Danilovic Win Junior Doubles Championships

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Wimbledon--

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 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. This year, the 18-year-old from Spain marched through the draw without dropping a set, earning Spain's first Wimbledon boys title in 50 years with a 7-6(2), 6-3 win over Axel Geller of Argentina.

After his semifinal 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 Court 1 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 slam final.

"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.

"He returned very well," 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 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 game, which not only included that 135 mph serve after a double fault, but 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 a tiebreaker, 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.

"In the tiebreak, he made a few big, big returns and I feel like he went for the tiebreak 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 played both singles and doubles six of the seven days this week, took a medical timeout before serving at 1-2 in the second set.  After work on his back, Geller resumed play and held serve in the next two games, but Davidovich got the break at 4-3, with a big backhand giving him a break point and immediately converting it, forcing an error from Geller.

Davidovich closed confidently, and his willingness to close the net when sensing an advantage continued, even under the stress of serving for the match.  At 30-all, he forced an error from Geller, and finished with a stylish backhand volley, becoming the first Spanish Wimbledon boys champion since Manuel Orantes in 1967, and only the second overall.

"Now I'm very happy to be the second junior champion at Wimbledon," said Davidovich, who has not decided whether he'll 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 realize."

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 said. "Today I was not 100 percent, but that's not an excuse, and I gave everything I had, but he was better."


Geller did end the day as a Wimbledon champion however, earning the boys doubles title with Yu Hsiou Hsu of Taiwan.  Geller and Hsu, the No. 2 seeds, defeated 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, and as the No. 2 seeds there, went out in the first round to eventual champions Sebastian Korda and Colombia's Nicolas Mejia. But Hsu said they managed to develop as a team with every win 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," Geller said. "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. But 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 set, Geller and Hsu broke Vrbensky in the first game and again the next time he served, after Vrbensky had been up 40-15 and 40-0 in those two games.  Geller then had an opportunity to serve out the match and he was automatic in those situations all week, offering that he had not dropped serve in doubles in any of their five victories.

As to whether winning the doubles eased the pain of losing in the singles final, Geller wasn't sure that it did.

"It does a bit, it's so different though," Geller said. "I'm happy in like a different dimension, I don't know how to explain it."


The girls doubles championship went to the unseeded team of Olga Danilovic of Serbia and Kaja Juvan of Slovenia, who beat 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."

All junior draws can be found at the Wimbledon website.

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