Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Teenagers in Melbourne

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Eight teenagers entered the 2016 Australian Open main draw, but after just three days, all eight were eliminated from the tournament with just three wins to show for their effort. However, all teenagers that reached the second round claimed their first career tour-level victories.

This group of teenagers has already been far more impressive than the group born between 1990 and 1994, leading many to conclude that this will be the group of athletes that will replace the current top tier of tennis, which is all at least in the high 20's in terms of age.

None of the teenagers were seeded in the tournament and four needed wildcards, while one qualified and three were direct acceptances into the main draw. Still, eight teenagers in the main draw of a slam is much more than what we were seeing even just two years ago.

Noah Rubin had the most noteworthy of the three wins eliminating No. 17 seed Benoit Paire in three tiebreak set 7-6(4), 7-6(6), 7-6(5). Rubin, at 19 years old, is ranked No. 328 in the world and had never won a tour-level match of any kind before in his career. However, the American was nearly perfect in the three tiebreaks, pulling off the biggest upset of the tournament.

Australian Omar Jasika thrilled the home crowd upsetting Illya Marchenko who reached the semifinals in Doha just two weeks ago. The left-handed 18 year old won in four sets 6-4, 3-6, 6-0, 6-4, proving that his game can translate to the biggest stages against the top 100.

"It was my first big match, so it was a pretty good feeling to get through that," Jasika said. "the crowd was on my side today, which was a good feeling. They pushed me through. It was incredible to see the crowd on my side."

Quentin Halys claimed the third win by a teenager in the tournament. The French wildcard is just 19 years old and defeated veteran Croat Ivan Dodig 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5. However, Halys ran into No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic in the second round, where the Serb won in straight sets.

Halys wasn't the only one to get a tough draw. Taylor Fritz lost in five sets to fellow American Jack Sock, who is seeded 25 in the tournament. Alexander Zverev lost to No. 2 seed Andy Murray in straight sets. Also, Korean teenager Hyeon Chung was Djokovic's first-round victim.

"Today, it was a great honor to play with Djokovic," Chung said in broken English. "I was just trying to fight; it was a great test to start the season."

Borna Coric is the highest-ranked teenager in tennis right now at No. 40, but the 19 year old went out in the first round in what has been a tough Australian Open for the Croats. Coric won just seven games as he lost in straight sets to Albert Ramos.

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