OSUIGWE, LIU SET UP ALL-U.S. GIRLS'
FRENCH OPEN FINAL
Ashley Marshall | June 9, 2017
For the first time in more than two decades, two American girls will contest the final of a junior Grand Slam.
In a promising sign for the future of U.S. tennis, 15-year-old Whitney Osuigwe and 17-year-old Claire Liu advanced to the girls' singles championship match of the French Open on Friday in Paris.
Osuigwe, the No. 7 seed, toppled Elena Rybakina of Russia, 6-4, 6-4, while Liu, seeded sixth, made quick work of another Russian, Marta Paigina, 6-2, 6-0, in just 49 minutes.
The last time two American girls reached the final of the same junior Grand Slam was in 1992, when future US Open champion Lindsay Davenport beat Julie Steven in New York.
The victories by Osuigwe and Liu ensure Team USA will have its first girls’ junior winner in Paris since Jennifer Capriati, then 13 years old, accomplished the feat in 1989. ADVERTISEMENT Only three other U.S. girls have won the title on the red clay of Roland Garros: Anne Smith (1977), Kathy Horvath (1980) and Bonnie Gadusek (1981).
American juniors have tended to have their greatest successes on hard courts. Whichever American lifts the trophy Saturday, it will be the first junior Grand Slam singles title not on a hard court for an American girl since Chanda Rubin won Wimbledon juniors in 1992.
Florida native Osuigwe (pictured above) is currently the No. 5 junior in the world and a member of the Team USA National Junior Team. She had a fine start to the clay-court season this spring, winning two prestigious South American tournaments in February: the Asuncion Bowl in Lambare, Paraguay, and the Banana Bowl in Criciuma, Brazil.
For Liu, born and raised in Thousand Oaks, Calif., winning the junior French Open would give her a second big-time title in as many months.
She dropped just one set in winning the 2017 Easter Bowl in Indian Wells in April, a tournament in which she defeated Osuigwe, 6-1, 6-1, in the semifinals in their only previous meeting.
Friday proved to be a strong day for two other American juniors, with 18-year-old Vasil Kirkov and 17-year-old Danny Thomas defeating Jurij Rodionov and Michael Vrbensky, 6-3, 2-6, [10-8], in the semifinals of the boys' doubles. In the boys' doubles final, Kirkov and Thomas will play the top-seeded duo of Nicola Kuhn and Zsombor Piros, who defeated Americans Sam Riffice and Gianni Ross, 6-4, 6-4, in the day's second semifinal.