AO junior wrap:
Nava twice a finalist
Arthur Kapetanakis | January 26, 2019
Emilio Nava was the star of Team USA’s impressive junior showing at the Australian Open, as the 17-year-old reached the final of both the boys’ singles and doubles competitions.
The Woodland Hills, Calif., native teamed with Cannon Kingsley, an Ohio State commit, to reach the doubles final, a feat that was matched by the Americans Chloe Beck and Emma Navarro in the girls’ doubles draw.
In Saturday’s singles final, Nava won the opening set and earned a match point against top seed Lorenzo Musetti of Italy, before falling, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6, dropping a heartbreaking tiebreaker, 14-12, in the decider. He was the only player to take a set from the No. 1 seed in the fortnight.
Firing 30 winners and 7 aces, Nava was broken just twice in the match, both times in the second set. His seventh ace brought up match point, at 12-11 in the 10-point tiebreaker, but the American could not convert on the ensuing return point.ADVERTISEMENT
A cousin of the ATP’s Ernesto Escobedo, Nava entered the Australian Open as the No. 13 seed and at No. 22 in the ITF World Junior Rankings, one of eight American boys in the Top 30. His Melbourne success will propel him into the Top 10, and possibly the Top 5, for the first time in his junior career.
In addition to Nava’s final run, Kingsley, his doubles partner, reached the singles quarterfinals, while Zane Khan and Toby Alex Kodat progressed to Round 3.
In the girls’ singles tournament, Navarro led the way for Team USA with a third-round appearance of her own.
Friday’s boys’ doubles championship match was Nava’s second consecutive appearance in a junior Grand Slam doubles final, after he teamed with Axel Nefve for a runner-up finish at the 2018 US Open. Nava and Kinglsey, the No. 4 seeds, were turned back at the last hurdle by the third-seeded Czech duo of Jonas Forejtek and Dalibor Svrcina, 7-6, 6-4.
In Friday’s girls’ doubles final, Beck and Navarro, seeded No. 8, fell short against Japan’s Natsumi Kawaguchi and Hungary’s Adrienn Nagy, 6-4, 6-4. The No. 3-seeded champions converted on four break points – two in each set – while the Americans could only break serve twice on the day.
All told, it was a stellar start to the 2019 season for American juniors, though the quest for the year’s first major title will continue. At the senior level, Rajeev Ram ensured that the U.S. would take home at least one trophy, thanks to his mixed doubles triumph.