Kirkland and Young upset at Roland Garros
Tuesday proved to be a bleak day for American players in the junior events at Roland Garros as both Jessica Kirkland and Donald Young were knocked out in the second round. Kirkland, who was top seed in the girls’ draw, lost a marathon 6-7, 6-1, 9-7 to Bibiane Schoofs of the Netherlands while 15-year-old Young, who went out in the first round at Roland Garros last year, lost 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 to Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov.
After racing to an early lead against Kirkland, Schoofs had to overcome a bad bout of nerves but, cheered on by a noisy collection of Dutch supporters, she managed to edge the American out to record the biggest win of her junior career. “It wasn’t a small court and there were lots of Dutch fans there and they really, really helped me,” she said. “I knew she was beatable, especially on clay but staying calm was the biggest problem for me. Normally I manage to play my game even when I’m nervous but today it was very tough and there were times where I just couldn’t move. In the end I just told myself she was the top seed and the pressure was on her and I found a way to get through it.”
The 17-year-old from Rhenen , in the Netherlands, has had to come through far worse in her junior career. This time last year she was on her sickbed with a bout of glandular fever and just when she was recovering and hoping to play the junior event at Wimbledon, she was stricken by an ankle injury.
“I’ve had a lot of injuries so I know how to cope with things,” she said. “I’m kind of used to it now. When you go through tough times it definitely makes you appreciate it when you have good results.”
In a bad days for the seeds, number two seed and reigning Australian Open champion also saw her chances of securing a second consecutive Grand Slam disappear in a tight match against Russia’s Alisa Kleybanova which ended in the Russian’s favour 76(7) 46 86.
Last year’s finalist, Madalina Gojnea, seeded 15th this year, also knows a thing or two about difficult times. After being runner-up at Roland Garros to Sesil Karatancheva, the Romanian was nearly forced to give up tennis altogether when her family was no longer able to fund her development.
“I lived with my brother in Bucharest but when he moved to London I had nowhere to live and no money,” said Gojnea, who beat Kristina Antoniychuk of Ukraine in the second round on Tuesday. “I was just about to quit tennis when an investor from the Tennis 2000 Club in Bucharest said he would help me. It meant a lot to me that someone believed in me like that. I don’t know what I would have done without tennis. Some of my friends say ‘don’t go to practice, come out with us’ but I wonder what girls my age do without tennis. I know I have a purpose in life.”
While Young’s defeat sent shock waves through the boys’ draw, there were no such problems for the tournament’s top seed, Great Britain’s Andrew Murray, who shook off the stomach upset that was troubling him earlier in the tournament to beat Italy’s Gianluca Naso 6-2. 6-2 and move through to the quarter-finals.
“I wasn’t feeling bad at all today and from the first point I was really pumped up. I knew the guy I was playing was good and that I’d have to play well and that’s what I did,” said the reigning US Open champion.
“I’m number one seed here but I don’t think the seeding makes much difference because you still have to win your matches whether you are seeded or not. I’ve got a tough match to come through in the next round and it’s all about getting through that now.”
That last eight clash will be against Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro, who beat Russian Alexandre Krasnoroutsky 6-1, 6-4. “It’s going to be very, very difficult against Murray but I’ll try my best,” said Del Potro. “I have to tell myself that he is the top seed and take advantage of the fact that the pressure is on him and not me.”
In other results, Romanian seeds Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania, seeded ninth and seventh seed Monica Nicolescu were both knocked out, as was third seed Yung Jan Chan. In the boys’ competition, tenth seed Jeremy Chardy of France was beaten by Antal Van Der Duim of the Netherlands.