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Victoria Duval looks to succeed Serena as Queen of the court

Victoria Duval stretching for a forehand
by Helen Gilbert
Tuesday 24 June 2014

When Serena Williams eventually decides to hang up her racket there’ll be a young whippersnapper looking to take over her mantle. She too is American. And her name is Victoria Duval.

There seems to be no stopping the 18-year-old, who topped her three-match winning streak in the qualifying event last week, with an opening round triumph over Romanian Sorana Cirstea.

Last week, the Florida resident declared her favourite surface was grass and she certainly looked at home on the SW19 lawns as she plotted her way to 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 victory in 99 minutes.

The world No.114, who was born in Miami but spent much of her childhood in Haiti until the age of eight, has reached the second round stage of a Grand Slam once before - last year at Flushing Meadows. There she toppled former 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur whilst ranked just 296 to become a household name in the States.

On Tuesday the determination was etched on Duval’s face; she was not going to let anything stand in the way of a second round outing firing off nine winners in the final set, while Cirstea failed to generate one. Furthermore Duval only made five unforced errors, half the number notched up by her Romanian opponent.

Compatriot, Taylor Townsend may have fared less well in her opening round challenge against world No.32 Klara Koukalova but she is nonetheless a promising young gun to keep an eye on.

The 18-year-old enjoyed a wonderful spell on the red clay of the French Open last month, reaching the third round before bowing out to No.14 seed Carla Suarez Navarro.

Although her campaign here was less fruitful – she lost 7-5, 6-2 – Townsend was determined not to dwell on the loss.

“I definitely am not pleased about my match, but it's just a learning experience really,” she insisted. “I'm just going to take what I've learned over the past two slams. I'm going to go back home. I'm going to work extremely hard and get ready for the US Open Series. I have tons of tournaments to look forward to and a lot of great things are ahead, but it's time to just put my head down and work again.”

Swiss Teenager Belinda Bencic also etched out a place in the second round recovering from a set down to see off Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. The 17-year-old, who reached the Australian Open second round at the start of the year, faced a barrage of aces – 13 – but produced far fewer unforced errors - 21 compared to the Slovak’s 38.

Another youngster involved in a three set tussle was 17-year-old Donna Vekic.  The Croat has been a regular fixture in Grand Slam main draw events ever since making her debut at the Australian Open in 2013 where she reached the second round.

And in fading light on an outside court, the world No.87 proved why she is one to watch ousting No.21 seed Roberta Vinci 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to book a place in the Wimbledon second round for the first time in her career.

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