Croatian Ana Konjuh signalled she is a future star of women’s tennis as she claimed the 2013 Australian Open girls’ singles championship on Saturday.
The No.3 seed defeated No.2 seed Katerina Siniakova of Czech Republic 6-3 6-4 in an impressive display of tennis that lasted 64 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
It is Konjuh’s first junior singles grand slam title and adds to the 2013 Australian Open girls’ doubles crown she won with Canadian Carol Zhao on Friday. The victory will also see her rise to world No.1 when the new ITF junior rankings are released on Monday.
“The feeling is incredible,” Konjuh said.
Konjuh, 15, entered the match on a 17-match winning streak that stretches back to November 2012 and includes two titles. She also had a two-nil head-to-head record against her opponent, beating her twice last season.
Konjuh looked confident from the opening point, playing aggressive tennis to get on the board early. She broke Siniakova’s opening serve to love and quickly raced to a 3-0 lead.
Her powerful game was too much for her 16-year opponent to handle. She was dictating play and showing she had the complete game, using drop shots and lobs to mix up play and keep her opponent guessing.
Siniakova was flustered. Her game is built around her powerful shot-making, but she was not getting the opportunity to take control of the points.
Konjuh served out the opening set with an ace, taking it 6-3 in 26 minutes.
The Croatian had three break points on the Siniakova serve in the third game of the second set, but could not convert as Siniakova reeled off five straight points to take a 2-1 lead.
It was a turning point in the match. With Siniakova’s confidence growing, she then broke Konjuh in the next game and raced to a 4-1 lead.
Konjuh did not panic. She continued to play her game and was able to break back and level the set at 4-all.
The momentum had swung again and this time it was all in Konjuh’s favour.
She broke Siniakova’s serve to give her the opportunity to serve for the championships. There were no signs of nerves from the No.3 seed, as she held serve to love to win her fifth straight game and take the set 6-4.
Konjuh admitted she was a bit nervous but relished the chance to play on centre court in her first visit to Melbourne Park.
“That experience, the crowd, you know, it's all a big thing,” she said. “I was just trying to focus on my game, you know, not to look at the crowd and other things. I just hope in the future I'm going to come back.”
Konjuh becomes the third player in the past three years to win both the Australian Open girls’ singles and doubles title, following Belgian An-Sophie Mestach in 2011 and American Taylor Townsend in 2012.
Belarusian world No.1 Victoria Azarenka, who is aiming to win a second consecutive Australian Open women’s singles championship tonight, also collected
both junior titles in 2005.