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The ones to watch in the Junior Championships

Nick Kyrgios leans into a forehand stroke.
by William Denny
Tuesday 2 July 2013

With former winners of the Junior Championships including the likes of Roger Federer, Ivan Lendl, Agnieszka Radwanska and Martina Hingis, we look at who could be in line to emulate some of the sport’s greats.

With 20-year-old Australian Bernard Tomic competing at his fourth Championships this year, many would see the 2011 Wimbledon quarter-finalist as the natural successor to the former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt. However, the current Boys’ No.1 seed Nick Kyrgios may have different ideas following a fantastic season in junior events while also announcing himself on the senior tour in some style this season. The 18-year-old secured the Junior Australian Open title earlier this year – becoming the third Australian in six years to do so – and will be viewed by many as the favourite for this year’s junior crown. Kyrgios has also seen his senior singles ranking shoot to No.218 following his first round victory at Roland Garros over former world No.8 Radek Stepanek.

Following the magnificent run at SW19 this year by the former Girls’ Champion Laura Robson, there are plenty of British youngsters on show hoping to emulate the 19-year-old’s rapid progression from a junior sensation to a player ranked inside the world top 50. One of those is 18-year-old Kyle Edmund – making his senior debut at The Championships this year – who will be keen to impress at his last junior Wimbledon, where his previous best was the second round in 2011. Edmund is one of eight Brits in the second round and there were impressive wins for Billy Harris, Julian Cash and Harriet Dart to name a few.

In the wake of the shock exit of Serena Williams in the fourth round to Sabine Lisicki, coupled with not a single male American progressing further than the third round, Sloane Stephens represents the last remaining hope of American glory at The Championships. Taylor Townsend heads only four Americans competing in the second round of the Junior Championships this year. The 17-year-old is the No.5 seed here as well as a junior Grand Slam winner at the Australian Open in 2012. No.15 seed Louisa Chirico and Jamie Loeb are in the Girls' draw while Stefan Kozlov represents the US in the Boys’.

Girls No.1 seed Belinda Bencic is one of only two Swiss representatives in the  draw this year along with No.11 seed Karin Kennel. With no Swiss player currently ranked inside the Boys’ top 50, Bencic will be the one hoping to follow in the footsteps of the 17-time Grand Slam Champion Federer. At just 16, Bencic has two singles and two doubles titles on the ITF tour while achieving her maiden junior Grand Slam title at Roland Garros earlier this year.

For Nikola Milojevic and Laslo Djere there could be no greater inspiration than their compatriot and current world No.1 Novak Djokovic. Currently seeded No.2 and No.4 respectively, the young Serbs represent another promising era for the talented tennis nation. Milojevic was a quarter-finalist at the Junior Championships last year and recently made the semi-finals at  Roland Garros. Djere has made the third round at the previous two junior Grand Slams this year.

Along with a strong senior Italian contingent in The Championships this year – four players made the fourth round - four of the five junior entries progressed into the second round including two top 10 seeds Gianluigi Quinzi and Filippo Baldi.

Alexander Zverev, the No.3 seed, will spearhead the German challenge and will hope one day to emulate the achievements of Tommy Haas and Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Croatia will be strongly represented. In the Girls’ event there is No.2 seed Ana Konjuh and in the Boys’ No.8 seed Borna Coric. Konjuh has an impressive record in the junior Grand Slams. At just 15, she won both the singles and  doubles events at the 2013 junior Australian Open before reaching the Junior semi-finals at Roland Garros.

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