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Boy's champ Popyrin taking it to next level

By Dan Imhoff   on   Saturday 10 June 2017
A | A | A

Australian teenager Alexei Popyrin claims the boys' singles title at Roland-Garros in what was his last junior Grand Slam appearance.

Alexei Popyrin is going out on a high after becoming the first Australian in 49 years to snare the boy’s singles title at Roland-Garros.

The 17-year-old saw off Spanish 11th seed Nicola Kuhn 7-6(5), 6-3 on Saturday and announced it would be his last junior Slam before beginning the steady transition to the professional ranks.

The 195-centimetre right-hander, who practised with men’s semi-finalist Dominic Thiem before the Austrian’s defeat to Rafael Nadal, was the first Australian since Phil Dent in 1968 to claim the boys' title.

“It feels amazing, you know. Winning any tournament feels great, but especially when you win a Grand Slam, you feel over the moon,” Popyrin said.

“It's what you have been working for. It's what you have been striving for. It's just great to get that step done. Now we have to move on to the pros and try to do the same in the next level.

“This is going to be my last juniors (slam).”

Popyrin’s win is the ninth by an Australian at a boys' singles major in the past decade after Brydan Klein, Bernard Tomic (twice), Luke Saville (twice), Nick Kyrgios, Omar Jasika and Oliver Anderson.

And in a promising sign for his nation’s Davis Cup prospects, he was adamant that Australian representation was part of his long-term plan.

“I would love to play in Davis Cup, love to be an orange boy at least maybe this year or maybe next year,” Popyrin said. “For sure winning Davis Cup for my country is one of the main goals, also.”

Whitney Osuigwe

Meanwhile, in an all-American girls' singles final, seventh seed Whitney Osuigwe ground out a 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3 victory over sixth-seeded 17-year-old Claire Liu.

The 15-year-old is the first American to claim the girl’s title since Jennifer Capriati in 1989 and just the fifth after Ann Smith (1977), Kathy Horvath (1980) and Bonnie Gadusek (1981).

And who better to celebrate with than her good friend, the teenager she beat for the title.

“I think actually me and Claire are going to go into the town and we're going to go to dinner,” she grinned.

“I just know her because I travel with the USTA a lot. So she's been on some of the trips with me. I have roomed with her a couple of times.”

Where Popyrin’s victory confirmed his intentions to turn professional, Osuigwe was already on her way.

“Actually, I have already turned pro,” she said. “It's a decision I have made. I have been doing well this year so I think it was the right one.”

There was some redemption for Kuhn in the boy’s doubles final when he and Hungarian Zsombor Piros teamed to take down unseeded Americans Vasil Kirkov and Danny Thomas. The top seeds prevailed 6-1, 6-4.

In the girl’s doubles final, Canadians Bianca Andreescu and Carson Branstine easily accounted for the all-Russian pairing of Olesya Pervushina and Anastasia Potapova. The top seeds triumped over the second seeds, 6-1, 6-3.

Pride and joy on juniors' finals day

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