Leo Borg booked a spot in the Samaai Junior Open semifinal in Newlands, dispatching Walid Ahouda of Morocco 6-3, 6-1. Photo: @TennisSA/Twitter
Leo Borg booked a spot in the Samaai Junior Open semifinal in Newlands, dispatching Walid Ahouda of Morocco 6-3, 6-1. Photo: @TennisSA/Twitter

European seeds Borg and Niedner snuff out remaining hopes of Africans reaching ITF semi-finals at Kelvin

By Herman Gibbs Time of article published Oct 28, 2021

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Cape Town – The untimely exits of the two unseeded 18-year-old Moroccans Walid Ahouda and Yassine Dlimi on Thursday snuffed out the last remaining hope of an African player advancing to the semi-finals at the David Samaai Junior Open, the ITF Junior Grade A tournament, at the Kelvin Grove Sports Complex in Newlands, Cape Town.

Ahouda, who hovers just about the 100-mark in junior world rankings, was first to the exit door after falling to the top-seeded world No 27 Leo Borg in straight sets. Borg of Sweden managed to adapt well to the windy conditions and won 6-3 6-1.

The 114th-ranked Dlimi offered more resistance on the neighbouring court, but his lack of consistency allowed his German opponent Neo Niedner (98) to win 6-4 7-6 (4).

Niedner played in last week's ITF tournament in Stellenbosch has acclimatised well to cope easily with the windy conditions at the Rondebosch courts. He has done a fair bit of travelling this year and played in South American countries, Russia, Italy, Czechoslovakia and the USA (US qualifying rounds).

He is part of a large contingent of juniors who were brought out by the German Tennis Federation for the three Western Cape events. The juniors were accompanied by several coaches including Michael Kohlmann, Germany's Davis Cup captain.

Niedner made heavy weather of his two-set win after he was 5-0 up in the second set which was eventually settled with a tiebreaker.

"I started well in the second set to go out up 5-0 and I played even better than the first," said Niedner.

"Then I lost focus and dropped serve and then in no time it was 5-all. It started playing less aggressively and I was also making errors. In the end, we went into the tiebreak, which I won.

"It should have been a little bit easier if didn't lose focus especially after I had two match points at 5-2."

Niedner said tennis is thriving again in Germany now that Alexander Zverev, the world No 3, is doing well in international events and at the Olympic Games.

In Thursday's quarter-final, Niedner will meet the top seed Borg and the two have only ever crossed paths in doubles events. On occasions, they have travelled together in junior squads.

In a tight match between two seeded players, 3-Jakub Mensik of Czechoslovakia ran out a 7-6 (3) 7-6 (5) winner against 5-Sebastian Dominko of Slovenia.

In the girls second-round matches, the 7th seeded Russian Yaroslava Bartashevich, the world No 56, caused the upset of the tournament when he defeated the tournament's marquee player, Czechoslovakia's Brenda Fruhvirtova, the only world top-10 junior in the Cape Town event.

Bartashevich won 6-4 7-6 (6) and Fruhvirtova will now concentrate on regaining lost pride in the doubles event.

The semi-final round starts on Friday morning.

@Herman_Gibbs

IOL Sport

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