No competitor from Hong Kong had come closer to a berth in the boys』 singles final of the US Open Junior Championships, as Coleman Wong fought all the way to the semifinals before 2nd-seeded Roland Garros runner-up Gilles Bailly of Belgium came from a set down to win their noon day showdown, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. Wong competed in all four majors this season, reaching the last sixteen at the Australian Open, quarterfinals at Wimbledon, and now the last four in New York. He also captured this year’s Australian Open boys』 doubles to add to the US Open equivalent he won in 2021.
Against Bailly, the junior world No. 5 and reigning European U18 champion, Wong came out firing and quickly established a clear and present intent. Although the HK rep managed just the lone break, he was rarely troubled on his own service games, as he produced an assortment of pinpoint aces, corner winners, and imposing net play to take the opening set, 6-3, against a visably frustrated opponent. Wong also benefited from a Bailly blunder when he had the open court at his mercy facing break point down trailing 4-3, 30-40, but the Belgian miscued an absolute sitter of a volley to concede his serve. From 30-30 in the next game, Wong belted a pair of unplayable first serves to hold for the set 6-3, with the momentum seemingly all on his side.
From the beginning of the second set, Bailly’s defensive prowess was coming to the fore and he was reading Wong’s serve much better than previously. Nevertheless, Wong had his opponent down 0-30 twice in the early going but those scenarios did not materialise further. The Belgian then broke the HK rep to go up 4-2 and even though he got into a spot of bother in the next game, he managed to save the only break point he faced in the set after multiple deuces to consolidate for 5-2. After Wong line-drived a couple of winners to take proceedings to 5-3, Bailly held firm for 6-3 to force a deciding set.
In the third, Bailly was the initiator, often pinning the HK rep back behind his baseline with penetrating crosscourt backhands or pulling him wide with heavy spin crosscourt forehands. The No. 2 seed broke early for 2-1 but was forced to save a break point the following game before he finally consolidated to jump ahead 3-1. There were no more breaks until the ninth game when Bailly broke Wong a second time to end the contest after his opponent netted a backhand. Game, set, and match Bailly, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
The pair had met once before at the Grade 1 Charleroi on clay last September, which the Belgian won in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4.
In the boys』 doubles, Wong and Lithuania’s Edas Butvilas were the No. 1 seed. Butvilas currently ranked No. 13, has won twelve doubles titles on the ITF Junior Circuit, including Grade A events Wimbledon and Orange Bowl in 2021 and Roland Garros in 2022, all with different partners. Wong is a two-time junior Grand Slam doubles winner, having bagged the US Open 2021 and Australian Open 2022 titles. Against Americans Learner Tien and Aidan Kim, the top-seeded duo were upset in the first round, 7-6(5), 4-6, [8-10].
Wong has indicated that his immediate focus is the pro circuit, but there are still several high-ranking events left on this year’s junior calendar, such as the Grade A Osaka Mayor’s Cup in Japan and the Grade B1 Asia Closed Junior Championships in Korea in October, followed by the Grade A Yucatán Cup in Mexico in November, and then the Grade A Orange Bowl in December.
The first order of business, however, is this coming weekend’s Davis Cup World Group II 1st Round away tie against Chinese Taipei.
US Open Junior Championships
Flushing Meadows, New York
September 4-10, 2022
(9)Coleman Wong (HKG) d. Martin Vergara Del Puerto (PAR) 6-3 6-2
(9)Coleman Wong (HKG) d. Aidan Kim (USA) 4-6 6-3 6-3
(9)Coleman Wong (HKG) d. (7)Gonzalo Bueno (PER) 7-6(5) 6-2
(9)Coleman Wong (HKG) d. (3)Kilian Feldbausch (SUI) 6-2 6-7(4) 6-4
(2)Gilles Bailly (BEL) d. (9)Coleman Wong (HKG) 3-6 6-3 6-3
Photo: @arckphoto / arckimages.com