Thai fighter into girls' final
Friday, 4 July 2008
Written by Michael Burke
Thailand’s Noppawan Lertcheewakarn defeated Tamaryn Hendler of Belgium 7-6, 6-3 to progress to her first junior Grand Slam final and become the first Thai girl to reach the final since Tamarine Tanasugarn in 1995.
Lertcheewakarn had a nervous start to the match, allowing Hendler to dominate the early games with aggressive tactics and a big forehand, the Belgian racing to an early break and a 3-1 lead in the first set.
Perhaps Lertcheewakarn took a while to become accustomed to the Belgian’s huge forehand but after the first four games the Thai’s confidence grew. As the same time the huge amount of effort Hendler was putting into the rallies took their toll and she began to struggle to maintain the Nadal-esque intensity.
This allowed the Thai to level at 3-3 before both players had a shaky end to the set, swapping five consecutive breaks of serve as returns ruled instead of serve. The set had to eventually be decided by a tie-break, which was won by the Thai fighter, who took her chances after waiting patiently for the right time to strike the final blow.
Hendler, who lost in the opening round last year to eventual champion Urszula Radwanska, has made huge improvements to her game but needs to focus more on controlling her thoughts and keeping a calm head. She clearly possessed greater power than Lertcheewakarn but when she lost the lead in the first set, errors began creeping in and her head dropped far too easily.
The Thai girl broke twice early in the second set, keeping her precision double-handed forehands and backhand ground strokes low and hard and stepping into the net at the right opportunity. She finished off the Belgian 6-3 and will now face British 14-year-old Laura Robson who won also in straight sets, 6-2, 7-5