Jones jostles past Egorova in opening round

AUSTRALIAN teenager Emerson Jones fought off a ridiculous display of power from her Russian opponent, qualifier Daria Egorova to advance through to the second round of the Australian Open Junior Girls’ Singles event yesterday.

Jones is coming off a victory at Traralgon, a J300 event where she only dropped one set for the entire tournament. The Australian sixth seed at the event – and world number nine overall on the ITF circuit – is just 15 years-old and one of the green and gold’s highest touted prospects.

Despite being a 2008-born talent, Jones has far outweighed her age in her performance, playing 28 tournaments on the Junior ITF circuit the past 12 months, and entering the top 10 for the first time. In her first match at the Australian Open this year after making her debut 12 months ago and reaching the second round, Jones was able to battle past Egorova in an hour and 51 minutes, 7-6 6-4 as she adapted to the Russian’s raw power.

Jones is more than capable of producing power herself, hitting 19 winners, but also 42 unforced errors, having to go up a level against the Russian. Egorova was wayward at best, and though she hit nine more winners (28), she also whacked away 60 unforced errors, including 16 return unforced errors, which mean she was always going to struggle.

Both players are predominantly baseliners, with only a handful of net points played, but Jones’ ability to break five times to four – and hit 15 winners off her deadly forehand – was the difference between the players. The 15-year-old is a budding star of the future and the top seed of the Australian Juniors.

Though her backhand is an area that will need to improve when she hits the WTA Tour, her forehand is already better than most senior players on the Tour. It is easy to see why the hype is there, and with a calm demeanour, Jones is one who could go far in the tournament.

Despite playing in front of a packed stadium that seats 3000 people out on Court 3, the Queenslander was overawed by the occasion.

“There were still a good few people there, the crowd doesn’t really bother me in a match. I enjoy them,” Jones said. “There’s no pressure on me, I just go out and try my best on every point and everyone knows I try, so no pressure at all.

“I don’t put pressure on myself (either) because I am playing very good girls.”

Jones’ next match is up against Israel’s Mika Buchnik in the Round of 32 after the 16-year-old defeated Austrian Ekaterina Perelygina in a hard-fought three-set match, 2-6 6-4 7-5 in the opening round. The Australian is on track to face ninth seed American and fellow 15 year-old, Tyra Caterina Grant in the Round of 16, before potentially eyeing off a huge quarterfinal with second seed, Japan’s Sara Saito.

The other major talking point of the second day of the juniors included the appearance of the first ever Benin player in a Junior Grand Slam. Gloriana Nahum suffered some injury issues on her left ankle and though after getting strapping and played on, it was too much and she had to retire down, 6-4 6-6.

In the Junior Boys’ Singles, the huge talk was that of Kazakhstan’s Amir Omarkhanov who stunned top seed Federico Cina in three sets. Not only was the upset something to savour, but the fact Cina won the opening set 6-0 in 20 minutes made the 0-6 6-3 6-3 victory all the more sweet.

“I got really tight in the first set, it’s my first slam,” Omarkhanov said. “I wanted too much from myself. My coaches and family told me to try and enjoy the game and not put pressure on myself.

“I went to the toilet and I tried to focus on and analyse what I was doing wrong. I thought just enjoy the game and the tennis, it’s what you are here for. We played three long games and after that I was really pumped up.”

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