Following a simply stunning match, Gianluigi Quinzi has become just the second Italian to capture the Boys’ Singles Championship at Wimbledon.
In a high-quality affair spanning one hour and 45 minutes, the left-hander subdued unseeded Hyeon Chung from the Republic of Korea 7-5, 7-6(2), collapsing to the court and shedding tears of joy before embracing his vanquished opponent, a friend and frequent practice partner.
The No.6 seed Quinzi followed in compatriot Diego Nargiso’s footsteps – Nargiso won in 1987 – to hoist the trophy at one of the most prestigious junior events in the world.
“Before the match I was a lot of tight because I knew that I was playing in the big court [No.1 Court] my first time. But my coach said to me before the match: ‘Don't look around. Look only the court. Look at the Korean guy. Think what we have to play’,” Quinzi revealed.
“I was a little bit tight the first two games. But after I play my game and I win the tournament. I can't believe that I win. I'm so happy.”
Despite both players – especially Quinzi – possessing strong serves, it was the return doing damage in the opening set. There were seven breaks in all during the first stanza, beginning as early as the opening game when the Italian immediately stamped his authority on the contest. Crushing both his serve and forehand, he appeared headed to a double break when up 0-30 in the third game.
But Chung recovered, and scored a break in the fourth game to level at 2-2. From here, the players traded breaks until the seventh game, when the diminutive Korean held for 4-3. It was a momentum swing that seemed to throw Quinzi – he fell behind 0-40 in the next game and surrendered serve after failing to control a forcing backhand from Chung.
“Today was unbelievable rallies we play. He was better at the back [of the court]. I play good [on the] important point. He played not good the important point. That's why I win the match,” Quinzi observed.
Indeed, the Italian elevated his game when he needed to most. He played a fabulous ninth game, pounding away relentlessly from the back of the court and then following a forehand into net to pick off a volley winner, breaking back for 5-4. After holding to level at 5-5, he played a similarly-impressive game to score another break, and won a fourth straight game by holding serve to clinch the first set.
Frustrations boiled over for Chung in the second game of the next set, when he netted a backhand on break point and yelled in anger. And the situation didn’t improve for the Korean when he required courtside treatment for a nasty blister.
Games progressed on serve until the tenth game, where Quinzi looked in danger of dropping serve and losing the set when down 4-5, 0-30. He escaped, clenching his fist as he held for 5-5. And from there, the quality of tennis took another upward swing.
Using the whole court, both players ran each other ragged and pulled off some stunning retrieving, thrilling the crowd on No.1 Court while exhausting each other in the process.
But Quinzi, who said that he felt the physical strain after those long rallies and in the hot weather, separated himself from his opponent in the ensuing tie-break. Attacking ceaselessly, he claimed two mini-breaks – the second with a volley winner – to move ahead 4-1. A second volley winner ended another incredible point, and a forehand winner brought up a bundle of match points at 6-2.
“The tie-break was unbelievable. I play my best tennis in the tie-breaker,” he said.
He needed just one. Chung’s forehand error into the net sealed the win for Quinzi, who completed a victory that he believed was possible from the beginning of The Championships.
“I went to the court the first round, and after the first round that I win, I tell to my coach: ‘Maybe I'm going to win this tournament’,” Quinzi said.
“And then I win.”
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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