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Kuzuhara sweeps 2022 Australian Open boys' titles; Ngounoue wins girls' doubles
Bruno Kuzuhara continued the rich tradition of American success at the junior Grand Slams by winning the boys' singles and doubles titles at the 2022 Australian Open. In the girls' competition, Clervie Ngounoue brought a third junior trophy home for Team USA by winning the doubles crown.
It’s the third straight junior Grand Slam with an American singles champion, after Robin Montgomery swept the US Open girls’ singles and doubles titles, and Samir Banerjee won the Wimbledon boys’ singles event last year.
“Samir and Robin, we're pretty good friends through tennis,” Kuzuhara said in his post-final press conference. “It's always amazing to see them succeed and share their happiness with them. It also motivates you to go out there and be the next one. It's amazing.”
In a three-hour, 43-minute single final played in Rod Laver Arena, Kuzuhara outlasted Jakub Mensik of the Czech Republic, 7-6, 6-7, 7-5, as his fourth-seeded opponent struggled with cramps late in the match.
"It was great fight. We pushed each other right until to the end,” said the champion. “Especially the second set, third set, it was just really physically brutal. We were really moving a lot during the points."
In a rematch of their 2021 US Open second-round match (won by Mensik), the American recovered from an early loss of serve to win the opener in a 7-4 tiebreak. Mensik took the next breaker, 8-6, after the second set stayed on serve throughout. After the pair traded early breaks in the decider, Kuzuhara secured his third break of the match in the final game to clinch the title.
"Every day the work we put in, it's paying off as it's shown today," he reflected. "I'd like to thank everyone back home, all my friends, family who stayed up to watch this match. Everyone even back in Brazil… and to my friends in Japan."
A resident of Coconut Creek, Fla., Kuzuhara was born in Brazil and moved from Sao Paulo to the U.S. with his parents—both of whom also have Japanese backgrounds—at the age of 1.
The 17-year-old champion lived up to his billing as the tournament's top seed, dropping just two sets in six matches on the way to the biggest title of his junior career. Kuzuhara knocked off four seeds on his trophy run, including third seed Adolfo Daniel Vallejo (Paraguay) in the semis and seventh seed Edas Butvilsa (Lithuania) in a three-set quarterfinal.
It remains to be seen how many more junior events he’ll enter, as he revealed his plans for the rest of 2022 include testing himself more at the professional level.
"I'll obviously be celebrating this victory,” he said, “but not letting myself get carried away with this, and just keep working."
In Melbourne, he got a taste of the top level by warming up Sebastian Korda for a main-draw match. Four years ago, it was Korda who won the AO boys’ singles title, in 2018.
In the doubles event, Kuzuhara teamed with Coleman Wong of Hong Kong. As the second-seeded pairing, the duo won match tiebreaks in the first round and quarterfinals before sealing the title with a 6-3, 7-6 final victory over Vallejo and American Alex Michelsen.
Ngounoue, who reached the second round of the girls' singles event as the fifth seed, teamed with Russia' Diana Schnaider to win the doubles crown. The top-seeded duo dropped just one set all week, in the quarterfinals against the all-U.S. team of Alexis Blokhina and Liv Hovde.
In the final, they beat the Canadian pairing of Victoria Mboko and Kayla Cross, 6-4, 6-3.
For more from Melbourne, visit the official Australian Open website.
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