United States puts two players in semi-finals at Les Petits As
Americans Darwin Blanch and Matisse Farzam, impressive since the start of the week, will play in the semi-finals of Les Petits As. They will go up against two of the big favorites, Czech Maxim Mrva (No 1) and Italian Federico Cina (No 3).
The organisers of Les Petits As have prided themselves on structuring the tournament such that the four best players overall in addition to the four best Americans advance to Tarbes. That way, an intercontinental dimension of the most prestigious junior tournament in France is assured.
It was an especially good decision for this 2021 event, as the United States boasts a very strong boys contingent. Look no further than the business end of the tournament to get confirmation. Three of the eight quarter-finalists were Americans and two have advanced to the semi-finals, which will be played on Saturday.
The most impressive heading into the quarters was Max Exsted (No 8), but he succumbed to the tactical intelligence of No 3 seed Federico Cina of Italy 6-7, 6-3, 6 -2 on Friday. On the bright side for Team USA, left-hander Matisse Farzam and Darwin Blanch had their fighting spirit rewarded with a place in the last four.
Blanch, a Floridian who easily dismissed No 2 seed Timofei Derepasko in the round of 16, defeated German Max Schoenhaus 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 on Friday. Schoenhaus, who was last player in the draw with a one-handed backhand, was a victim of his own demise because of inconsistency.
INCREDIBLE FIRST SET IN FARZAM-CARRIER MATCH
Farzam (pictured) emerged victorious from an all-lefty showdown against Great Britain’s Maximilian Carrier. The two boys indulged in an extraordinarily competitive 80-minute first set, which concluded 8-6 in a tiebreaker in Farzam’s favor. Carrier could not overcome the disappointment of that loss and played a nervous second set en route to a 7-6, 6-1 defeat.
The two American players will challenge two of the big favorites in the table on Saturday in hopes of setting up a 100 percent American final.
Farzam will face top-seeded Czech Maxim Mrva, who miraculously came out of his quarter-final against Germany’s Justin Engel. After winning the first set, Engel earned four match points in the tiebreaker of the second. However, the German could not convert and he also could not recover in the third after letting his lead slip away. Mrva needed only 20 minutes to dominate the third set and prevail 6-7, 7-6, 6-0 .
Blanch will test himself against Cina, the third seed from Italy.
BOYS SINGLES SEMI-FINALS AT LES PETITS AS 2021
• Mrza (CZE, No 1) vs. Farzam (USA)
• Cina (ITA, No 3) vs. Blanch (USA)