Becoming the first American to hold the No.1 year-end world ranking for juniors since 1982, Taylor Townsend firmly secured her place last year on the list of ‘next great American hopes’. Claiming her first WTA tour win in Indian Wells over Lucie Hradecka in March further brought her name to the fore.
Despite the talk, though, business continues as normal for the 17-year-old. Townsend, the No.5 seed, was impressive as she beat Karin Kennel 6-3, 7-5 to reach the last eight of the Girls’ Singles here at Wimbledon.
Despite only stepping foot on the grass for the first time at Roehampton in June 2012 – saying “it took a little bit to get used to because the ball wouldn’t bounce” – she has become quite keen on the surface.
“I love the grass,” said Townsend. “I think it just really suits my game and how I play. It helps me bring out the aggressive style and the all-court game a lot. It helps me get to the net a lot more and it helps me with my transition game so I really enjoy playing on it.”
The 2012 Australian Open junior champion is coming towards the end of a seven-week spell in Europe, during which she has had the chance to play a mixture of senior and junior events. “It has been a great trip so far,” said Townsend. “Just being able to interact with the pros and really get a chance to see for this long consecutively how they work, how disciplined they are on the road.
“It just shows how hard they work on such a consistent basis. You can also see how intense they are off court as well, how strict they are on themselves. It just shows all the characteristics that all these pros have in common.”
Asked on who impressed her most, Townsend said: “I think Serena’s [Williams] intensity on the court. I have been able to watch her practice and then watch her live. She is so intense on the court.
“I really admire Li Na. The way she is so calm. I see her every day in the gym, working, same routine every day. And then on the court she makes a mistake, you can’t even tell. It’s amazing. Her attitude is unbelievable, just how steady she is at all times.”
Top seed Belinda Bencic, this year’s Roland Garros champion, was taken to a deciding set by Anett Kontaveit before coming through 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, while the hard-hitting 15-year-old Ana Konjuh, the No.2 seed from Croatia, cruised through against Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-2, 6-3.
No.6 seed Elise Mertens and Barbora Krejcikova, the eighth seed, also won their third round matches, but the No.3 seed Katerina Siniakova was knocked out by Louisa Chirico 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.
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