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French pride ousts Phl’s Eala



ELSA Jacquemot, 17, is looking to become the first French girl in 11 years to win the Roland-Garros junior title. (PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF ROLAND-GARROS)

With all French players eliminated before the Roland-Garros quarterfinals of the main singles draws, the pressure was on for home junior player Elsa Jacquemot.

Contesting her first major semifinal, the 17-year-old duly delivered as she cruised past second seed Alexandra Eala of the Philippines, 6-3, 6-2, to become the first French player to reach the girls’ singles final since Kristina Mladenovic won the junior title in 2009.

“I am super proud to be in the final,” Jacquemot said. “For a French player in France, this is super cool.”

Jacquemot is trying to become the first homegrown junior champion since Geoffrey Blancaneaux won the boys’ singles title in 2016.

The third-seeded Jacquemot will play Alina Charaeva in the final after the 18-year-old edged Polina Kudermetova, 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-5, in a topsy-turvy all-Russian semifinal.

“I will have to continue the way I have been playing,” said Jacquemot, who won 75 percent of the points on her first serve, compared with 54 percent for her opponent. “I haven’t really watched the way she has been playing. I am going to try and focus on my own game and do the best I can.”

The boys’ singles final will be an all-Swiss affair between the seventh seeded Dominic Stephan Stricker and the No.8 seed Leandro Riedi.

Stricker overcame Argentina’s Juan Bautista Torres, 6-0, 5-7, 6-0, while Riedi ended the run of Grand Slam debutant Guy Den Ouden of the Netherlands, 6-3, 6-1.

Jacquemot had a much less stressful path to the title match than Charaeva, clinching an early break to take the first set 6-3 and then taking a 4-2 lead as she overpowered her 15-year-old opponent with heavy groundstrokes from the back of the court.

Trailing 2-5 in the second set, Eala, only the second player from the Philippines to reach a junior Grand Slam semifinal, held her head in her towel during the changeover in frustration.
Having missed the first match point on a net cord, Jacquemot roared with delight as she converted the second on an error.

Charaeva is the first Russian to reach the Roland-Garros junior final since 2015. The country last won a junior Grand Slam title in 2016, when Anastasia Potapova won the girls’ singles at Wimbledon.

“Winning the title would mean a lot to me,” said Charaeva, whose favorite player is the Belarusian former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka. “It would be a dream come true.” (Roland-Garros News)