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History repeats for junior girls

Taylor Townsend serves on No.19 Court.
by Dan Imhoff
Friday 5 July 2013

American Taylor Townsend has revenge on her mind after booking a place in the Wimbledon girl’s singles final with a 2-6, 7-6(4), 7-5 upset of Croatian No.2 seed Ana Konjuh on Friday.

The No.5 seed and 2011 Junior Australian Open champion will meet Junior French Open champion Belinda Bencic after the Swiss top seed dashed hopes of an all-American final in a hurry with a 6-0, 6-3 result over No.15 seed Louisa Chirico.

For Townsend, it is a chance to atone for a marathon French Open quarter-final defeat to Bencic and another taste of playing on the big stage after triumphing on Rod Laver Arena two years ago.

“She’s a tough opponent and she’s playing very well. She’s come into this tournament undefeated from the French, she won the French,” Townsend said. “We had a grind, 9-7 in the third in the quarter-finals of the French so I’m looking forward to playing her on the grass.”

In a battle of the past two winners of the Australian Open junior singles title, Townsend was completely outplayed in the first set against Konjuh and thought she had let her chance to get back into the match slip, when she failed to serve out the second set.

“I think she played unbelievable in the first set. It’s not that I played badly, her serve was completely on, I couldn’t do anything really and she had me on the defense from when we started from her serve and off the return,” Townsend said.

“But I just kinda stayed in there, stayed solid, just trying to get the ball back deep and finding my forehand and finding a way to get to the net. She made some mistakes and I pretty much just took advantage of it.”

“The whole match after the tiebreaker was mental. I had a chance in the second set to serve it out. I was up 5-3, but she came back.”

A Swiss top seed through to a final at Wimbledon has a familiar ring to it and Bencic made light work of her American opponent in the earlier semi-final.

With her idol and part-time mentor Martina Hingis watching from the stands, the 15-year-old barely put a foot wrong in the first set, handing Chirico a bagel before the No.15 seed was finally able to survive a struggle on serve to win the opening game of the second.

Chirico had a break point for 2-0, but Bencic stemmed the momentary surge, bringing up game point with a fine-angled off-forehand winner. She survived a third deuce and set up the perfect one-two with a big serve down the T before putting away the short return for 1-1.

From there it was Bencic at the helm. She broke for 3-2 and broke Chirico’s serve again to seal the match after an hour and five minutes.

Townsend will have to overcome a 0-2 head-to-head deficit if she is to upset the highly rated Swiss, including a loss on grass at the AEGON Junior International at Roehampton before the Championships.

“I never go into a tournament thinking I can’t win it,” Townsend said. “Like I said, I aim high. I don’t come to participate really.”

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