ISRAEL TO PLAY SPAIN IN BOYS UNDER-14 FINAL
Two unseeded players will square up in the final of the boys Under-14 draw of the NJT International Masters at Club Med Punta Cana on Sunday.
Israel’s Or Ram Harel ousted third seed Wayne Montgomery, the last remaining seed in the draw, 6-0 6-2 while Spain’s Carlos Bonito put out Swiss Daniel Valent 6-2 6-3.
This is the third time Montgomery has played at the NJT International Masters and this is the third time he has at least reached the semifinals. The South African is a smart player but this time he met his match. Ram Harel was even smarter.
No matter what Montgomery did, the Israeli found a way to counteract it. Even more impressive was the speed at which he adjusted his game. He also rarely made a mistake and in fact, all of the errors in the opening set came of the South African’s racquet. “He never hit a ball out until the second set,” said Montgomery.
Before the No 3 seed knew what hit him, Ram Harel was up 6-0 5-0 and Montgomery was heading for a whitewash. But remarkably he started to find a winning formula and coupled with a few rare errors from the Israeli, Montgomery broke serve and then held. Although a long game ensued on the second occasion Ram Harel served for the match, the Israeli held his nerve and marched into the final.
Benito had a slow start to his match when he faced four break points in his opening service game but he managed to hold and set up a 5-1 lead. He dropped his serve for 5-2 but then broke Valent to take the set.
The Spaniard again dominated the second set, earning a 4-1 lead before losing the next two games. Any chance of a fightback from Valent was shortlived as the Spaniard broke for 5-3 and served out the match.
RUSSIAN INFLUENCE ON BOYS UNDER-12 FINAL
A Russian and an American of Russian descent will go toe-to-toe in the final of the boys under-12 final NJT International Masters at Club Med Punta Cana on Monday.
Fourth seed Stefan Koslov of the USA fought back well to oust sixth seeded Spaniard Alvaro Verdu 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 6-4 while fifth seed Andrey Rublev of Russia ousted Slovak Alex Molcan 3-6 6-2 6-2. Koslov and Rublev have become good friends but the American admits he may use of touch of gamesmanship to win the title.
“Tomorrow I will try not to give him long points, rather try to finish them off quickly. He gets angry, like me, and I will try to make him mad. Of course, I will need to stay calm,” said Koslov. “He’s also had two long matches so I want him to move around a lot more.”
Rublev had finished his match and at that stage was unsure who he would play. “It makes no difference to me. They’re both good players. I think as long as I play my game and stay focused, I can win.”
He led 3-2 in the opening set before Molcan won four successive games to take the set. But after that Rublev regrouped and the match was never in doubt.
Koslov held a 5-2 lead in the opening set before Verdu managed to grab the initiative. The Spaniard, who was involved in a long and tense encounter with top seed Alexander Zverev of Germany a day earlier, forced the set into a tie-breaker and won it 7-2.
So when the Spaniard went up 3-0 in the second, he looked to have the match at his mercy. However, Koslov was not done. “I just started thinking better, just started hitting the ball, got my head back into it and started putting the ball away. At 5-2 the crowd was with him and I started screaming and that was not necessary.”
Koslov clawed his way back from the brink to win the next six games and square the match. “He was just keeping the ball and I think he was a little tired. I also started cramping in the second set, but I didn’t want to call for the trainer as I was winning it, and I didn’t want to give him time to regroup.”
Koslov took control of the match early in the third set and led 5-2 served. However, Verdu held for 5-3 and then broke the American for 5-4. The Spaniard had an opportunity to hold serve in the next game but the American fought tenaciously to close out the match.
LEBESHEVA SETS UP CLASH WITH PETERSONIN UNDER-14 GIRLS FINAL
No 1 seed Darva Lebesheva of Belarus was given a scare in her semifinal match against American Alexandria Stiteler before winning through 6-3 1-6 7-6 (7-5). In Sunday’s final she will take on unseeded Rebecca Peterson of Sweden, who caused an upset when putting out Indy de Vroome of Holland 6-2 6-0.
Lebesheva raced away with the first set but left-handed Stiteler came right back at her to level the match. Remarkably, only the first time in this tournament so far, the pair went to a third-set tiebreaker with neither dropping her serve. The breaker was a mirror image of the first two sets, with Lebesheva racing into a 5-0 lead before Stiteler started to fight back. However, the Belorussian did not lose her nerve and at 6-5 closed out the match.
“It probably should have been easier but the heat got to me,” said the top seed. “But I feel confident I can win the tournament. I have only played her once before but that was in a doubles match which we won.”
Peterson is probably the surprise finalist this week but she played well to beat second seeded De Vroome, who probably was feeling the effects of her four-quarter-final match.
“She played really well today,” said coach Ulf Samuelsson, “and I think if she can handle the pace of Lebesheva, she will win.”
MORROCAN BLASTS HER WAY INTO GIRLS UNDER-12 FINAL
Morocco are only making their first appearance at the NJT International Masters but they already have a finalist in Zainob El Houari. In fact, in her four matches so far, El Houari has conceded just 12 games.
In Saturday’s semifinals at Club med Punta Cana, she did not drop a game as she disposed of Brazil’s Laeticia Vidal 6-0 6-0 in just 51 minutes.
Her opponent in the final will be eighth seed Anastasiya Komardina of Russia, who took out sixth seed Bianca Bekefi of Hungary 6-4 6-2.
Bekefi held a 4-3 lead in the opening set but the Russian reeled off the nest three games to close out the set. Once in second set Komardina established a 5-1 lead which she never relinquished and easily closed out the match.
“I played very well today and now I’m confident I can win the tournament,” said the Russian.