Winning Junior Wimbledon Is ‘Crazy’, But Still ‘Junior Only’

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WIMBLEDON, England – Novak Djokovic and Matteo Berrettini were playing the first set of Wimbledon men’s singles at Center Court Sunday afternoon, as two young Americans were completing the men’s singles final 100 yards and a world away.

In the first all-American men’s singles final at the All England Club since 2014, Samir Banerjee of Basking Ridge, NJ, No. Defeated Victor Lilov 7-5, 6-3 at 1 Court.

17-year-old Banerjee dropped his racket when he converted his third championship point and put his hands on his head in disbelief and looked a lot like other Grand Slam winners after he became “Samir Banerjee, Wimbledon champion”.

“She has a good voice,” Banerjee said with a laugh in an interview. “This is insane. I don’t think it’s completely sunk yet. Now I know it’s going to be there forever. That’s a lot. That’s great. But it’s just young, you know?

“Obviously it’s a very good achievement, but it motivates me to try to play the pros and claim my name as the men’s singles champion,” he added. “It’s a great feeling.”

Neither player had a draw, and it represents an astonishing success for American tennis, which is desperately looking for another top male player. Andy Roddick’s 2003 US Open win stands as the last major singles title for an American man.

But three of the top four American men, led by #32 Reilly Opelka, were men’s singles Grand Slam champions in their youth. Opelka won at Wimbledon in 2015 and Taylor Fritz won at the US Open that same year. Sebastian Korda He won the 2018 Australian Open men’s title.

Winning a Junior Grand Slam championship requires significant talent, but does not guarantee a successful professional career. Looking at the list of men’s singles title winners at the Grand Slam is a mix of the words “who’s who” and just “who”.

Roger Federer won the men’s singles title at Wimbledon in 1998, but no winner has since evolved to win a men’s title here. On the girls’ side, 2011 champion Ashleigh Barty won the women’s singles title here on Saturday, becoming the third woman to win both.

The last two players in an All-American Wimbledon men’s final seven years ago have yet to make the top 100. Banerjee and Lilov played, while 2014 champion Noah Rubin, now 286th, was waiting to play an elimination match in Newport. RI 2014 runner-up Stefan Kozlov is now 347th. In his most recent tournament last week, Fla. It reached the final of a Futures event at Weston, but the final rained.

The 2013 Wimbledon men’s champion, Italian Gianluigi Quinzi, recently retired from the sport at the age of 25.

“When you earn as much as a young man, it would be a tragedy to lose,” Quinzi said. He told Gazzetta dello Sport In an interview earlier this month.

Even in sweepstakes, crops can be mixed. Three of the four semi-finalists of the 2016 Wimbledon boys’ event were in the ATP top 20: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Denis Shapovalov and Alex de Minaur. The fourth semi-finalist, American Ulises Blanch, has not yet made it to the top 200.

Lilov, who said she “wasted a lot of time online” based on her past junior results, said she knew her success at Wimbledon would not necessarily go forward.

“Most of the young people who have succeeded here have become good professionals, but many have not become good professionals,” said Lilov. “Some of them who weren’t good or didn’t even play became top pros, so I don’t think this tournament will really define my career path. It might help increase that, but it’s up to me to see what I’m doing and whether I’m improving my game enough.”

Banerjee, a rising high school senior, has committed to playing varsity tennis for Columbia University. He said his win on Sunday would encourage him to participate in more professional tournaments.

“University is in the middle right now but I will try to play a few professional tournaments and see how it goes,” he said. “I think from now on I can decide what I want to do in the future. Even if I go to college, I will definitely try to give it a shot on the professional tour after college.”

Born to a Bulgarian family in London, Ontario and now living in Delray Beach, Fla., Lilov turned professional three years ago at the age of 14.

“This is just a youth tournament,” he said. “We’ll see who improves his game the most.”

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