Konjuh Lifts Junior US Open Crown
Published September 10, 2013 12:00
NEW YORK, NY, USA - On Sunday afternoon, a stone's throw away from Arthur Ashe Stadium, Ana Konjuh and Tornado Alicia Black served up quite the hors d'oeuvre ahead of the singles final.
For nearly three hours, the two held a packed Court 11 captivated, before Konjuh summoned one final flourish to propel her over the finish line and to her second junior Grand Slam title.
In a classic battle of attack versus defense, for much of the match it looked like the unseeded Black's tireless retrieving would win the day; the American, who won four more points overall than Konjuh, led 4-2 and 5-3 in the final set tie-break, but was unable to deliver the coup de grace.
However, just as the trophy appeared to be slipping out of reach, Konjuh upped the ante, winning six of the last eight points to close out a 36 64 76(6) victory.
"The tie-breaker turned around because she started to play more aggressive, and I got a little bit tight," Black admitted. "But it's really good I got to the final. She's a really good player and she's the one that played better today."
No.2 seed Konjuh had won the players' two previous encounters, but for most of their two hours and 48 minutes on court she struggled to find a way through Black's watertight defense.
"She's improved since we played last year," Konjuh said. "She's really good from the baseline, so I had to play a lot of drop shots. I just stayed calm the third set and told myself, 'Don't make stupid mistakes and she's going to miss somehow!'"
Despite the overwhelming majority of the crowd being in the corner of her opponent, Konjuh's small, but vociferous, band of supporters - which included a few famous faces - helped her turn the tables at the contest's climax.
"She's American so it's normal that the crowd were with her," she said. "But somehow that gave me even more power to win, and I'm really happy that I had my team out there - they were like also pretty loud for me.
"Mario Ancic has been at almost all my matches, and I also want to say thank you to Iva Majoli, my coaches, agent, and everyone who supported me and helped make it such a great tournament."
Victory at Flushing Meadows caps an impressive season for the Croat, who also won the junior title at the Australian Open in January. "Yeah, it was really good year. I had really some good results. The Australian and US Open and also on the ITF Circuit. I'm really happy with everything and now I want to practice even more to be even better"