The fine run of Hong Kong-Canadian duo Cody Wong and Melodie Collard at the US Open was halted by Aubane Droguet and Selena Janicijevic after the French pair saved a couple of match points in the third set super-tiebreak to prevail in their girls’ doubles semifinal, 7-5, 4-6, [12-10].
“Did good but still super disappointed about the last match. Had a very good chance, just one more step and I can bring the trophy home,” laments Cody.
Janicijevic and Droguet, world-ranked No. 23 and No. 43 respectively, were in a heap of trouble against Chinese fourth seed Bai Zhuoxuan and Zheng Qinwen before pulling their act together to register an upset win, 0-6, 6-4, [11-9], just to survive the opening round.
The French girls reached the semis of Wimbledon earlier in the summer before they lost to eventual winners, American Abigail Forbes and Savannah Broadus. As a team, Janicijevic and Droguet won the Grade 2 Tunis and Grade 1 Prague West earlier this year, and then added the Grade 1 Canadian Junior Open Championships just a week prior to Flushing Meadows.
Janicijevic and Droguet picked up some impressive wins in recent weeks, beating reigning Australian Open and Italian Junior Open winners Natsumi Kawaguchi and Adrienn Nagy in Montreal last week and against Joanna Garland and Park Sohyun in Maryland a fortnight ago.
Cody and her partner, 16-year-old Melodie Collard, combined for a great start in their semifinal against the French girls, breaking them early to jump out to a 3-0 lead, but the HK-Canadian duo was eventually collared towards the tail end of the opening set and conceded it 7-5.
In the second, they again initiated the first strike and broke for a 4-2 lead only to see Janicijevic and Droguet fight back immediately to force a 4-4 impasse. This time, however, Cody and Melodie responded with a sense of urgency to break again for 5-4 before finally consolidating it to take the set, 6-4.
In the third set super-tiebreak, both teams traded mini-breaks on multiple occasions until Cody and Melodie had two match points on serve, at 9-8 and then 10-9. Colette Lewis of ZooTennis reports: “Droguet and Janicijevic saved two match points in the tiebreaker at 9-8, and in spectacular fashion, at 10-9, with Droguet getting two overheads back in a point Collard and Wong appeared to have won at least three times.”
However, after Janicijevic and Droguet held their serves to bring the score to 11-10, the French pair conjured a match-clinching mini-break to take the set and the match, 7-5, 4-6, [12-10].
The most telling stat in the third set super-tiebreak was win% on 2nd serve, as the French pair managed to win 60% (3 of 5), while the Hong Kong-Canadian duo converted just 33% (1 of 3).
Earlier in the quarterfinal, Cody and Melodie knocked out reigning Wimbledon girls’ doubles champions, No. 6-seeded Americans Abigail Forbes and Savannah Broadus, breaking them seven times to score a 6-4, 6-4, decision.
Prior to that success, the HK-Canadian tandem eliminated No. 2 seed Sada Nahimana and Park Sohyun, in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2, when they produced half a dozen service breaks, while allowing their opponents to win a paltry 27% on second serve.
In 1983, Patricia Hy became the only player from Hong Kong to capture the girls’ doubles crown at a Grand Slam when she teamed up with American Patty Fendick as the No. 2 seed at Wimbledon to beat Sweden’s Carin Anderholm and Helena Olsson, 6-1, 7-5, in the final.
Paulette Moreno was the last player from Hong Kong to reach the final of a Junior Grand Slam when she finished runners-up in girls’ doubles with Korean Kim Il-Soon at Wimbledon in 1987.
Nevertheless, Cody is the first player from Hong Kong to reach the girls’ doubles semis at the US Open. Prior to her exploits this week, the last girls’ doubles tandem from Hong Kong to reach the semifinal of a Grade A event on the ITF Junior Circuit was Venise Chan and Zhang Ling, who fought their way to the last 4 of the Osaka Mayor’s Cup back in 2005.
Earlier in the first round of the girls’ singles, Cody was defeated by No. 1 seed and French Open finalist, Emma Navarro, 6-0, 6-3. “She is No. 4 in the world after all but I learned a lot in this match. Didn’t play well in the first set, just too many unforced errors. I broke her for 2-0 in the second but missed the opportunity to go up 3-0. I need to be more consistent from start to finish.”
Navarro started the match in amazing form, anticipating and moving so well to the ball that it ended up causing Cody to hit almost three times the number of unforced errors compared to winners in the opening set.
The second set was a different story. As the No. 1 seed’s otherworldly consistency started to drop, Cody capitalized on her opponent’s weakening stranglehold by breaking Navarro in the first game. After she consolidated for 2-0, she then missed a chance to go double break up. Soon after, the top seed broke back and the two began a series of seesawing protracted baseline battle until 4-3, 30-30, when Cody coughed up two unforced errors in succession to hand the American the break. Navarro then served out the match, saving a break point in doing so.
Navarro, a semifinalist at Wimbledon and runner-up at Roland Garros, has committed to D1 college tennis at the University of Virginia starting this Fall. However, the No. 1 seed’s progress ended when she fell immediately in the ensuing round to 16-year-old Russian Oksana Selekhmeteva in three sets.
US Open Junior Tennis Championships
Flushing Meadows, New York
Sep 1-8, 2019
(1)Emma Navarro (USA) d. Cody Wong (HKG) 6-0 6-3
Cody Wong/Melodie Collard (HKG/CAN) d. Gabriella Price/Katrina Scott (USA) 6-3 6-3
Cody Wong/Melodie Collard (HKG/CAN) d. (2)Sada Nahimana/Park Sohyun (BDI/KOR) 6-4 6-2
Cody Wong/Melodie Collard (HKG/CAN) d. (6)Abigail Forbes/Savannah Broadus (USA) 6-4 6-4
Aubane Droguet/Selena Janicijevic (FRA) d. Cody Wong/Melodie Collard (HKG/CAN) 7-5 4-6 [12-10]
Photos 1 & 3: Roger Parker / ArcK Photography