By Joshua Rey, special to USTA.com
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. – Looking at Lauren Davis off of a tennis court wouldn’t convince any stranger that she’s one of the top junior players in the world. But looking at Lauren Davis – all 5-foot-2 of her – glide around a tennis court is a revelation.
On Friday, Davis dominated even the best of competition, eliminating world No. 1 and US Open champion Daria Gavrilova, 6-0, 6-2 in a Girls’ 18s singles quarterfinal.
The No. 8 seed has lost only nine games in four matches at the Dunlop Orange Bowl.
"I know how to break someone down mentally," said Davis. "I think that’s why I don’t give up many games."
Davis has now won 16 straight matches on the ITF Junior Circuit and 31 of 32 matches overall since losing to Gavrilova in New York.
That includes professional titles at a $10,000 clay-court event in Williamsburg, Va. and a $25,000 hard-courter in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
"At the US Open, I was in a slump," said Davis. "My confidence was low and as soon as she got up on me, I was dead. But here, I feel really strong and I’m coming off of good wins."
Davis didn’t give Gavrilova an inch at the start: breaking for 1-0 on a double fault, holding for 2-0 with a cross-court backhand winner, and breaking again for 3-0 with a forehand return winner.
The American won 12 of the first 13 points, prompting Gavrilova to switch racquets on the changeover.
"I was prepared to play her because she’s a really tough player," said Davis. "I knew that I had to stay focused all the time, and when I was up on her, stay up."
Though the Russian rebounded to break Davis (Gates Mills, Ohio) in the fourth game, she failed to hold serve in the fifth when Davis struck a forehand lob over her head.
At 5-foot-5, Gavrilova actually looked tall on Court 7, and she didn’t seem sure how to play that part. The Youth Olympic Games gold medalist ended many rallies by missing wildly with a forehand into the net, as she did on Davis’ first set point.
Having already changed racquets, Gavrilova changed clothes during the set break. But she couldn’t change opponents.
Davis broke Gavrilova in all seven of the Russian’s service games to book her spot in the semifinals.
During her junior winning streak, Davis has defeated all three of the remaining players in the Girls’ 18s draw, including her semifinal opponent Monica Puig of Puerto Rico.
In fact, Puig has fallen all three times she’s played Davis – but none of those matches were in her hometown. The No. 3 seed resides in Miami and has enjoyed the support of friends and family throughout the week.
"It’s always great playing here, especially on these courts, because I love coming to Crandon Park," said Puig, a 7-6(5), 6-0 winner over An-Sophie Mestach. "My whole family can come and watch. I have the support of my mom, my grandfather, a couple of my friends, my coach – anybody who can come is welcome."
The other semifinal will pit Grace Min (Duluth, Ga.) against No. 13 seed Natalija Kostic of Serbia, who prevailed in a phyiscal and mental battle against seventh-seeded Russian Yulia Putintseva.
Putintseva has drawn the ire of many opponents for her zealous celebrations and excessive complaints about line calls. Such was the case in her third-round match on Thursday against Lauren Herring (Greenville, N.C.), which was played on the court adjacent to Kostic’s third-round match.
"I saw that the girl [Herring] was crying and she [Putintseva] was screaming louder and louder," said Kostic. "I knew that I should not do that… because if I start to get nervous, she gets worse and worse, louder and louder. It’s so annoying."
Kostic said that she started to feel sick during her match with Eugenie Bouchard, which was played in bitterly cold conditions on Thursday night.
Trailing 6-1, 2-1 to Putintseva, the Serb took a medical timeout for breathing problems. When play resumed, Kostic changed her tactics, mixing in off-speed shots that caught the hard-hitting Russian off guard.
"I wanted to retire from the match," said Kostic. "These 10 days in Florida have been so cold and windy… and I think that because of that it was tough for me to breath through my nose. But I said, ‘I will try two or three games.’
"She started to make mistakes because I was relaxed and played my game in a different rhythm. She doesn’t know how to play that rhythm… Everything is flat, flat, flat, but when you play a little bit of slice, spin and drop shots, everything is different."
Having turned the match around, Kostic earned a match point on Putintseva’s serve while leading 5-4 in the third set. But she left her return short in the court and Puntintseva stepped inside the baseline to bash a backhand down-the-line for a winner.
Putintseva held serve, and then broke Kostic to take a 6-5 lead. That’s when Kostic took a second medical timeout, this time for a right ankle injury.
She recovered to break Putintseva and force a final-set tiebreak, providing Putintseva with a taste of the gamesmanship so many other players have suffered through against the Russian.
"I felt a pain in the third set at 3-all or 4-3," said Kostic. "I said: ‘Should I call the doctor or not? No, just play tennis. Don’t think about something else.’ I didn’t want to do it, but at 5-all, she played such a good game. So I said: ‘Okay, I suppose I’ll try to concentrate again and take a break.’"
Kostic won the final five points of the tiebreaker to complete a 1-6, 6-2, 7-6(2) victory, squeaking with joy and twirling in circles after hitting an inside-out forehand on her second match point.
"It was 6-1, 2-1 for her – doctor, medical, treatments, ice – everything was so fast," said Kostic. "It’s like a dream; I really can’t believe that I did it. The third set was amazing… Now, it’s a dream come true."
As was the case on Thursday, the biggest story coming out of the Boys’ 18s event in the quarterfinals was the unsportsmanlike conduct of a player.
This time, the culprit was No. 3 seed Mate Pavic of Croatia, who screamed an audible obscenity after losing the first set against No. 12 seed Jannick Lupescu of the Netherlands. Pavic was issued a code violation – his third of the match – costing him the first game of the second set, which he was due to serve.
Lupescu ran away with a 6-4, 6-1 upset, while Pavic walked off the court ranting in the direction of the chair umpire.
"This has never happened to me before," said Lupescu. "I think the referees make some bad calls, but my opponents have to handle it better. I went crazy also, but only in my head."
One day earlier, Lupescu benefitted from two game penalties assessed to his third-round opponent Oliver Golding. Both Golding and Pavic were defaulted out of the doubles draw because of their actions.
Also advancing to the Boys’ 18s singles semifinals were unseeded Alexios Halebian (Glendale, Calif.), No. 9 George Morgan of Great Britain and No. 7 Joris De Loore of Belgium, who upended tournament favorite Dominic Thiem.
Thiem, the No. 2 seed from Austria, appeared to strain his stomach muscle while serving at 3-4 in the first set. Unable to move at full speed, he dropped the first set 6-3 before receiving a medical timeout.
Though he won two of the first five games played in the second set, Thiem retried from the match, thus ending his 15-match win streak on the ITF Junior Circuit.
On the other side of the net, De Loore was hitting powerfully and moving smoothly. He’s the only Boys’ 18s semifinalist yet to drop a set at the Dunlop Orange Bowl.
"I’m trying to keep my level up," said De Loore. "I feel good physically and I train hard on that, which is very important if you are big."
France and the United States are guaranteed at least one Dunlop Orange Bowl title following the Boys’ and Girls’ 16s singles semifinals played Friday.
Because of excessive rain on Thursday, Boys’ 16s doubles partners Lucas Pouille and Laurent Lokoli of France each won two singles matches before falling in the doubles semifinals. They will meet in the singles final on Saturday.
In all, 10 players competed in three matches on Friday, including Girls’ 16s singles finalist Alexandra Kiick (Plantation, Fla.). The daughter of a member of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins, Kiick could add a Dunlop Orange Bowl championship trophy to dad Jim’s Super Bowl ring.
"My game has improved a lot," said Kiick, who defeated No. 5 Christine Kandler and No. 2 Carol Zhao on Friday. "I really had nothing to lose because I was a wild card in this tournament. So I came in and tried my best, and it’s working so far. Hopefully, it works tomorrow."
For Kiick to cap a memorable week with a win, she will need to defeat countrywoman Catherine Harrison (Germantown, Tenn.).
After dropping just two games against No. 1 seed Christina Makarova (San Diego), Harrison went head-to-head with reigning European Champion Silvia Garcia Jimenez of Spain.
It was a stark – and sometimes spectacular – contrast in styles.
Harrison’s flat, two-handed strokes helped her prevail in the first set, 6-1. Garcia Jimenez found the range on her heavy top spin shots to win the second set by the same score.
A tiebreaker decided the final set, with Harrison hitting three winners and drawing four backhand errors off the Spaniard’s racquet to prevail, 7-4.
"In the first set, I don’t think she was quite used to how flat I hit the ball," said Harrison. "She was making a lot of errors, especially with her extreme forehand grip. In the second, she got used to my pace and started retrieving all my balls. I knew in the third I would have to hit three or four winners to win a point because she was getting everything back."
Championship weekend at the 2010 Dunlop Orange Bowl begins at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Crandon Park Tennis Center. Admission is free.
64th Dunlop Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships
Crandon Park Tennis Center
Key Biscayne, Fla.
December 5-12, 2010
Girls’ 18s Singles – Quarterfinals
 Lauren Davis (Gates Mills, Ohio) d.  Daria Gavrilova (Russia) 6-2, 6-0
 Monica Puig (Puerto Rico) d.  An-Sophie Mestach (Belgium) 7-6(5), 6-0
Grace Min (Duluth, Ga.) d. [WC] Gabrielle Faith Andrews (Pomona, Calif.) 6-2, 6-1
 Natalija Kostic (Serbia) d.  Yulia Putintseva (Russia) 1-6, 6-2, 7-6(2)
Boys’ 18s Singles – Quarterfinals
Alexios Halebian (Glendale, Calif.) d.  Hugo Dellien (Bolivia) 6-2, 6-4
 Jannick Lupescu (Netherlands) d.  Mate Pavic (Croatia) 6-4, 6-1
 George Morgan (Great Britain) d.  Roberto Quiroz (Ecuador) 6-3, 6-4
 Joris De Loore (Belgium) d.  Dominic Thiem (Austria) 6-3, 3-2 ret.
Girls’ 16s Singles – Semifinals
Catherine Harrison (Germantown, Tenn.) d. Silvia Garcia Jimenez (Spain) 6-1, 1-6, 7-6(4)
[WC] Alexandra Kiick (Plantation, Fla.) d.  Carol Zhao (Canada) 6-3, 6-3
Girls’ 16s Singles – Quarterfinals
Catherine Harrison (Germantown, Tenn.) d.  Christina Makarova (San Diego) 6-0, 6-2
Silvia Garcia Jimenez (Spain) d.  Ayaka Okuno (Japan) 6-3, 6-2
[WC] Alexandra Kiick (Plantation, Fla.) d.  Christine Kandler (Austria) 7-5, 6-1
 Carol Zhao (Canada) d. [WC] Taylor Townsend (Stockbridge, Ga.) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
Boys’ 16s Singles – Semifinals
 Lucas Pouille (France) d.  Thien Nguyen Hoang (Vietnam) 7-5, 6-4
 Laurent Lokoli (France) d. Harrison Adams (New Braunfels, Texas) 6-2, 6-1
Boys’ 16s Singles – Quarterfinals
 Lucas Pouille (France) d.  Luke Bambridge (Great Britain) 7-5, 3-6, 6-1
 Thien Nguyen Hoang (Vietnam) d. Nikko Madregallejo (Duarte, Calif.) 7-5, 6-3
Harrison Adams (New Braunfels, Texas) d.  Maxx Lipman (Nashville, Tenn.) 6-4, 2-0 ret.
 Laurent Lokoli (France) d.  Alexander Ritschard (Switzerland) 6-1, 6-2
Girls’ 18s Doubles – Quarterfinals
 Margarita Gasparyan (Russia) and Ganna Poznikhirenko (Ukraine) d. Indy de Vroome (Netherlands) and Alison van Uytvanck (Belgium) 7-5, 6-3
Tristen Z. Dewar (Bradenton, Fla.) and Marcela Zacarias (Mexico) d. Anna Smolina (Russia) and Veronika Zavodska (Czech Republic) 6-2, 6-7(5), [10-6]
 An-Sophie Mestach (Belgium) and Demi Schuurs (Netherlands) d.  Natalija Kostic (Serbia) and Daria Salnikova (Russia) 7-5, 6-3
Lauren Herring (Greenville, N.C.) and Madison Keys (Boca Raton, Fla.) d. Eugenie Bouchard (Canada) and Grace Min (Duluth, Ga.) 2-6, 6-4, [10-5]
Girls’ 18s Doubles – Second Round
Tristen Z. Dewar (Bradenton, Fla.) and Marcela Zacarias (Mexico) d.  Hao Chen Tang and Ran Tian (China) 2-6, 6-4, [11-9]
 An-Sophie Mestach (Belgium) and Demi Schuurs (Netherlands) d. Natalie Beazant (Great Britain) and Caroline Garcia (France) 6-1, 6-4
 Natalija Kostic (Serbia) and Daria Salnikova (Russia) d. Julia Elbaba (Oyster Bay, N.Y.) and Anna Mamalat (Philadelphia) 7-6(7), 6-1
Lauren Herring (Greenville, N.C.) and Madison Keys (Boca Raton, Fla.) d. Victoria Kan and Ekaterina Semenova (Russia) 0-6, 6-0, [10-3]
Boys’ 18s Doubles – Quarterfinals
Julien Cagnina and Jeroen Vanneste (Belgium) d.  Juan Sebastian Gomez (Colombia) and Mate Pavic (Croatia) default
[WC] Marcos Giron (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) and Wilfredo Gonzalez (Guatemala) d. Xin Gao and Chuhan Wang (China) 6-4, 6-2
Liam Broady (Great Britain) and Nik Razborsek (Slovenia) d. Michael Eibl and Patrick Ofner (Austria) 7-6(6), 6-1
 Hugo Dellien (Bolivia) and Roberto Quiroz (Ecuador) d. Benjamin Lock (Zimbabwe) and Celestin Nkoueleue (Cameroon) 6-2, 6-3
Boys’ 18s Doubles – Second Round
[WC] Marcos Giron (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) and Wilfredo Gonzalez (Guatemala) d.  Oliver Golding and George Morgan (Great Britain) default
Liam Broady (Great Britain) and Nik Razborsek (Slovenia) d. Gonzales Austin (Miami) and Dennis Novikov (Boca Raton, Fla.) 7-6(9), 7-6(1)
Michael Eibl and Patrick Ofner (Austria) d.  Dominic Thiem (Austria) and Matthias Wunner (Germany) walkover
 Hugo Dellien (Bolivia) and Roberto Quiroz (Ecuador) d. Edward Nguyen (Canada) and Luis Patino (Mexico) 6-4, 6-0
Girls’ 16s Doubles – Semifinals
 Estelle Cascino (France) and Carol Zhao (Canada) d.  Alejandra Cisneros and Giovanna Manifacio (Mexico) 6-2, 6-2
 Francoise Abanda (Canada) and Christina Makarova (San Diego) d. Mia King (Hendersonville, N.C.) and Taylor Townsend (Stockbridge, Ga.) 6-3, 7-6(1)
Girls’ 16s Doubles – Quarterfinals
 Alejandra Cisneros and Giovanna Manifacio (Mexico) d. Samantha Crawford (Tamarac, Fla.) and Alexandra Kiick (Plantation, Fla.) 3-6, 6-3, [10-4]
 Estelle Cascino (France) and Carol Zhao (Canada) d.  Anna Maria Heil (Austria) and Cecilie Lundgaard Melsted (Denmark) walkover
Mia King (Hendersonville, N.C.) and Taylor Townsend (Stockbridge, Ga.) d. Kristina Chasovskikh and Tatiana Guskova (Russia) 6-2, 6-4
 Francoise Abanda (Canada) and Christina Makarova (San Diego) d. Sofia Araujo and Joana Vale Costa (Portugal) 6-3, 6-2
Boys’ 16s Doubles – Semifinals
 Vasco Mensurado and Frederico Ferreira Silva (Portugal) d.  Laurent Lokoli and Lucas Pouille (France) 6-4, 6-2
Rodolfo Pereira and Diogo Rocha (Portugal) d. Hugo di Feo (Canada) and Gregory Garcia (Poway, Calif.) 6-3, 6-3
Boys’ 16s Doubles – Quarterfinals
 Laurent Lokoli and Lucas Pouille (France) d. Sean Karl (Brentwood, Tenn.) and Ronnie Schneider (Bloomington, Ind.) walkover
 Vasco Mensurado and Frederico Ferreira Silva (Portugal) d. Rodrigo Encinas and Jaime Ignacio Galleguillos (Chile) 7-6(4), 7-5
Hugo di Feo (Canada) and Gregory Garcia (Poway, Calif.) d.  Tyler Gardiner (Novi, Mich.) and John Harrison Richmond (Pawleys Island, S.C.) 3-6, 6-3, [15-13]
Rodolfo Pereira and Diogo Rocha (Portugal) d. Luca Corinteli (Alexandria, Va.) and Thien Nguyen Hoang (Vietnam) 6-0 ret.