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Tornado Black storms into Round 3

Tornado Alicia Black on day 3 of women's qualifying action at the 2014 US Open.
By David Kane
Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WHAT HAPPENED: Recovering from a second set lull, No. 4 seeded American Tornado Alicia Black overcame a tough challenge from unseeded Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia in Grandstand, winning 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to reach the US Open junior singles third round on Wednesday. Black had lost to Kuzmova on the grass in Roehampton earlier this summer. 

Last year Black reached the US Open juniors final playing a more defensive game. This year the 16-year-old American teen is clearly looking to add pace to transition into the senior ranks. Employing a winning strategy to start, Black struck a clean backhand winner to break in the second game. With more naturally flatter groundstrokes, Kuzmova began to penetrate the court and level the match after a long game on serve. Though the Slovak survived another marathon hold later in the set, she would play a disastrous three points in the tenth game, allowing the American to pounce and take the first set.

After making 24 errors in the first set, Kuzmova steadied her game in the second set by playing percentage tennis. She hit a winner to break Black in the opening game. Saving break points of her own with cool finesse, the unseeded Slovak maintained her lead with a deftly-hit dropshot. Black rallied to take the next three games, but it was a brief reprieve for the American. Hitting 12 winners in the set, Kuzmova won the set to even the match.

In the final set, after saving an early break point, Black broke the Kuzmova serve off more mistakes from the Slovak, and rode the wave of momentum into the third round.

WHAT IT MEANS:  Black will next play unseeded Vera Lapko of Belarus, with No. 6 seed Jill Belen Teichmann of Switzerland looming as a quarterfinal opponent.

 Black is coming off a Wimbledon girl’s quarterfinal appearance, losing to eventual champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia. Before the US Open main draw event even began, the American played veteran Brit Naomi Broady tough in two sets in qualifying. .

With a dearth of young American stars making major waves, can Tornado Alicia Black whip her way into a second consecutive US Open junior final?