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Junior Americans show up the seniors

Stefan Kozlov prepares to serve in the Junior event
by William Denny
Saturday 5 July 2014

John Isner’s third round exit to Feliciano Lopez meant that the last American singles win at the All England Club was 14 years ago. However, the future is looking bright for the next generation after two rising stars from the United States booked their place in the boy’s singles final.

Stefan Kozlov, 16, will make his second junior Grand Slam final appearance of 2014 after a 6-3, 7-6(7) victory over Frenchman Johan Sebastien Tatlot. Joining him is Noah Rubin, who defeated Taylor Harry Fritz 6-4, 6-2. Should Rubin lift the junior title, it would mark a hat-trick of victories against fellow countrymen.

“I feel good, it’s an accomplishment,” said Rubin. “There are some very good players out here and I feel like I’ve been playing pretty well the whole time.”

It was a clinical and composed performance from Rubin which nullified his opponent’s advantage in power as he sealed the opening set in less than half an hour. The 18-year-old continued to impress in the second, converting three break points before rain suspended play with the score at 6-4, 5-1.

Once the rain had relented, the players emerged onto Court 8 due to a scheduling re-shuffle. But, the change in scenery did nothing to prevent Rubin from reaching his first junior Grand Slam final as a devastating forehand proved one return too far for Fritz.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s final with Kozlov, Rubin said: “Our relationship off court has nothing to do with what will happen tomorrow. The best player is going to win tomorrow, whoever that is, we’ll see. It’s nice to be here all together and try and cheer each other on and just be there for each other because people are becoming desperate for American tennis and hopefully we have the results that they all want.”

Earlier on Court No.3, Kozlov, an Australian Open junior finalist, controlled the baseline exchanges in the first set, revealing a wide variety of attacking methods as he gained an early initiative over his French opponent. Tatlot, making his final appearance in the junior draw this year, stabilised his game and the score in the second as both probed away with entertaining rallies.

But, a second set tie-break would conclude the match as Kozlov prolonged his stay at the All England Club, ending the match with a combination of skill and grit.

“There’s a lot more to come from my game but I’m playing pretty well,” said Kozlov. “This generation is good and I hope it keeps going that way. In a couple of years we’ll see a couple of guys doing some good things.”

Kozlov can also look forward to a doubles final alongside Andrey Rublev who put in a ruthless display to beat No.7 seeds Petros Chrysochos and Nino Serdarusic 6-2, 7-5. Brazilian duo Orlando Luz and Marcelo Zormann complete the final line-up as they won 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 against Naoki Nakagawa and Tim Van Rijthoven.

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