Australian Open: Korda, Miladinovic, Wang and Liang reach junior semi-final

Tennis - Aidan McHugh, Clara Burel and Elisabetta Cocciaretto are the only unseeded players left in the draw

by Jovica Ilic
Australian Open: Korda, Miladinovic, Wang and Liang reach junior semi-final

Chun Hsin Tseng, last year's Yucatan Cup finalist and world number 6, advanced to his first junior Grand Slam semi-final after a 2-6 6-3 6-2 triumph over the top seed Russian Timofey Skatov in an hour and 45 minutes. Skatov had seven double faults and he struggled to find the rhythm on his second serve throughout the match.

Still, they had a similar number of break points and it was Tseng who broke his rival six times overall to cross the finish line first. They both had chances on the return in the opening set and Skatov seized his to notch three breaks of serve for a commanding 6-2 lead.

They traded breaks in games six and seven (Chun Hsin wasted five game points) of set number 2 before the player from Chinese Taipei got another one in game eight, closing the set on his serve in the following game after saving a break point.

The momentum was on his side and he sailed through the final set with three consecutive breaks of serve, closing the match with a hold at love in game nine to book the place in the last 4 with a forehand winner. Aidan McHugh is the only unseeded player left in the boys' draw and he will compete in his maiden Grand Slam semi-final following a 6-4 6-2 win over Rinky Hijikata in an hour and 12 minutes.

Glasgow native was the more aggressive player on the court and he pushed the Aussie to the limits on the second serve, winning 13 out of 17 points when Hijikata would miss the first serve. McHugh grabbed four breaks from seven opportunities and he lost his serve just once from nine opportunities he offered to Rinky.

It was a strong start for the Briton, he broke at love in game three and had another break point in game seven that could increase his advantage. Instead of that, Hijikata fends it off and he broke back in game eight to level the score at 4-4, setting up an interesting conclusion of the set.

McHugh recovered his game just in time, breaking again in game nine and closing the set on own serve a few minutes later. The Briton survived an early scare in the second game of set number 2 when he had to save three break points, and he stole rival's serve in game five with a forehand winner, moving closer to the finish line.

He saved two break points in the following game, staying focused in the most important moments, and he broke once again in game eight to take a 5-2 lead and serve for the victory. He brought the match home with a solid hold, setting the semi-final clash against Tseng.

Sebastian Korda, one of the most talented American juniors and world number 7, also notched his biggest Grand Slam result up to date, dispatching Ray Ho by 6-2 6-3 in 62 minutes. Korda, the son of a former Australian Open champion Petr, fired 10 aces and saved both break points he faced to control the scoreboard all the time, hitting more winners than his rival and winning almost 50% of the return points to score three breaks from 12 opportunities he earned. Sebastian saved those two break points in the third game of the match and he never looked back in his service games, keeping the pressure on the other side of the net all the time.

He converted his third break point in game four to move in front and the opener was in his hands after another break in game eight, forcing a backhand error from his rival to grab the first part of the match by 6-2. Korda continued where he left in set number 2 as well, winning 12 out of the first 15 points to create a 3-0 gap, breaking Ray in game two with a forehand winner.

A player from Chinese Taipei did his best to stay in touch in the rest of the set, saving all six break points he faced in games four and six, but that was all he could do, as Korda served just too well to give him even a glimpse of a break point.

The American sealed the deal with a hold at 15 in game nine, staying on the title course as the top favorite to lift the trophy. World number 2 Marko Miladinovic from Belgrade, Serbia, achieved his by far the greatest Grand Slam result (as the previous 3 winners we mentioned), looking to become the first champion from Serbia since Janko Tipsarevic in 2001.

In the longest and most exciting match of the day, Miladinovic took down the 5th seed Hugo Gaston 4-6 6-3 7-5 in 2 hours and 3 minutes, surrendering a 4-1 lead in the final set but managing to wrap up the win and book the place in the semis. As the result suggests, it was a close battle from start to finish and it was decided by a late break from Marko in the 11th game of the final set.

That was the fifth break of serve he claimed and Gaston could respond with only four breaks, which wasn't enough in the end. We saw a break point in each of the first four games, as they needed some time to find their range, with breaks traded in games three and four.

Hugo took charge after that and he lost just four points in the last three service games, breaking Marko at 15 in game seven to carry that lead home for a 6-4. Miladinovic raised his level in set number 2, never facing a break point and stealing rival's serve in the second game to stay in front all the time.

Gaston had to work hard to maintain that one break deficit, saving five break points by the end of the set, but he had to win the decider if he wanted to go through to the last four. That task became even bigger when he got broken twice at the start of the final set, sending Miladinovic 4-1 in front, but the Serb also started to feel the pressure in his games, dropping serve in games six and eight to get the Frenchman back to the scoreboard.

Marko served to stay in the match in game 10 and he did a fine job, and he was even better in the game that followed, winning four points in a row to break Hugo and deserve a chance to serve for the win. Gaston had a break point but he failed to convert it and Miladinovic captured the win three points later, celebrating his best result on the biggest scene so far. Boys' quarter-final results:


16-year-old Xinyu Wang, the top seed in girls' singles draw, had the opportunity to feel the Melbourne Park vibe before the other players could, receiving a women's singles wild card and losing to Alize Cornet in the opening round. Now, she is on a good course of becoming the junior Australian Open champion after a hard-fought 5-7 6-3 6-3 win against the 5th seed Naho Sato from Japan in an hour and 54 minutes. The Chinese blasted 17 aces and he dominated with her huge first serve, losing serve twice from eight chances she gave to Sato. The Japanese was unable to follow that pace after the opening set and she lost her serve four times from 10 opportunities Wang created, unable to resist better after a positive start of the match. Xinyu had the upper hand in the first set as well but she failed to convert three break points by the 10th game, including a set point at 5-4. 

Like many times before in those situations, a player got punished for missing his chances, with Sato converting her fourth break point in game 11 to move in front for the first time. She delivered a nice hold a few minutes later to close the opener by 7-5. Tall Chinese took the match into own hands in set number 2, serving well and scoring a lone break in game four to create a 3-1 gap. She saved a break point in game seven, bringing the game home with two aces and leveling the overall score with a hold in game nine. Wang kept her level high at the start of the third set as well, notching breaks in games three and five to move 5-1 ahead. She played a loose service game while serving for the win at 5-3 but that didn't cost her much, as Sato double faulted in the following game to drop serve again and end on the losing side. 

Girls' quarter-final results:


Aidan Mchugh Clara Burel Elisabetta Cocciaretto