PARIS, France - No.3 seed Elsa Jacquemot thrilled her home crowd by coming from a set and a break down in the Roland Garros girls' final to quell the unseeded Alina Charaeva 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in two hours and 12 minutes to become the first French girls' Grand Slam champion in over a decade.
The 17-year-old showed tremendous fighting spirit to overturn a 4-6, 2-4 deficit which found her five points from defeat on three occasions, as well as battling through a succession of tightly contested games in a contest that remained on a knife edge for most of its duration. Ultimately, Jacquemot's superior variety and ability to bring her best tennis to bear in the most important passages of play would prove crucial on the junior World No.6's way to her maiden junior major trophy - the first hoisted by a French girl since Kristina Mladenovic at Roland Garros 2009.
Comeback Queen 👑— ITF (@ITF_Tennis) October 10, 2020
Elsa Jacquemot battles back from a set down to beat Alina Charaeva 4-6 6-4 6-2 and claim the girls' singles title at #RolandGarros
She becomes the first French player to win the title since @KikiMladenovic in 2009 🏆 pic.twitter.com/zKT1OF3uIx
The Lyon native has already made an impression in the professional ranks: Jacquemot won a round in Roland Garros qualifying as a 16-year-old wildcard last year, defeating Basak Eraydin 6-3, 6-1, and has since risen to her present World No.525 off the back of strong ITF performances, including a first Top 100 victory over Nina Stojanovic three weeks ago in the Cagnes-sur-Mer ITF W80 event. Having made her Tour-level main draw debut this fortnight, losing to Renata Zarazua in the first round of the women's singles event, Jacquemot would today fire six aces and numerous further service winners to gradually wrest control of the final from Charaeva - who, once she had missed the opportunity to close out victory in straight sets, fell away in the decider, unable to match the crowd favorite's intensity.
The 18-year-old - who has herself been surging up the WTA rankings this year, with a maiden ITF W25 final run in Marbella in August lifting her to a current career high of World No.562 - made a good impression for a set-and-a-half, though. Boasting smooth power off both wings and a superior ability to inject pace to finish rallies with her forehand, Charaeva got off to a brighter start, rattling off the first six points of the match, and did an efficient job of holding off Jacquemot through much of the first two sets. The Russian - last year's girls' doubles runner-up alongside Anastasia Tikhonova, and playing at junior level for the first time since the 2019 US Open - broke first in each of those frames, and though Jacquemot fought to break back both times, Charaeva coolly re-broke to keep her nose in front.
But, serving for a 5-3 lead in the second set, the Russian would be unable to close out three game points, committing groundstroke errors on each. Sensing opportunity, Jacquemot raised her level, bringing up break point with a pass that was too hot for Charaeva to handle and levelling at 4-4 with a blistering backhand winner down the line - ultimately surging through 11 of the last 12 points of the set to snatch victory from Charaeva's grasp.
Jacquemot would maintain her momentum throughout the deciding set, though building an unassailable 4-0 lead would be more down to her superior ability to handle pressure points than dominating the run of play per se: Charaeva held 30-0 leads in the first two games and at least one game point in three of the first four, but failed to see any through, with her forehand now letting her down on a more frequent basis.
The final would end with a series of four successive breaks: Jacquemot would wobble as she neared the finishing line, committing two double faults to drop serve at 5-1, but the gulf was too much for Charaeva to make up. The Russian repaid Jacquemot in kind in the very next game, with her own eighth double fault sealing championship point for the home player.