However, out went No 5 Boris Kozlov of the USA, beaten 6-3 7-6 (7-2) by Igor Gimenez of Brazil, No 6 Mark Keki of Hungary, who fell 2-6 1-6 to Artsiom Bardzin of Belarus, No 7 Tomas Macac of the Czech Republic bowed out to Yuefeng Di of China 2-6 3-6 and American Axel Nefve put out eighth seeded Czech Tomas Jirousek 6-4 6-2.
Both Gimenez and Nefve look dangerous floaters in the draw and could still cause more havoc. Gimenez overcame a nervous start in which he found himself down 1-3 but once he found his rhythm Kozlov’s best way of winning points was to hope the Brazilian lost them.
Gimenez has remarkable natural court craft and he read the Kozlov game to perfection. He moves about the court like a puma on the prowl and plays with explosive enthusiasm. At 1-3 he reeled off six games in a row to take the opening set and break the American’s opening service game of the second.
Kozlov managed to break back but looked to be fighting a losing battle when the Brazilian broke for a 5-4 lead. But he failed to take advantage and dropped his serve to love. The pair eventually went to a tie-breaker and from the first point it was all Gimenez. He stormed into a 6-1 lead and although Kozlov saved the first match point, he conceded the match tamely when he put a forehand wide.
“I was nervous at the beginning but I became more confident in myself and in my game and from there everything just grew,” said Gimenez. “In the tie-breaker I sensed he was getting more tired and as I was playing with the wind, could go into more of an attacking mode.”
Even though he has beaten on of the seeded players, Gimenez will not get too carried away. “I don’t feel any different. Every match I have a chance to win or to lose, like any other player.
“As far as the Nike Junior Tour is concerned I am having a great time. I have done everything the hotel offers but even though it’s NOT JUST TENNIS I’m still staying focused on the tournament,” said the Brazilian.
Nefve spent more than two hours on court to achieve his victory over Jirousek. In the process, he learned that patience on clay is a virtue. “I come from Chicago and normally play on indoor courts where I would rip the ball and try to put it away. Here you have to hit three or four shots before you can look at going for winners.
The American found himself 1-4 down before he managed to turn things around. “He had a huge forehand, so I was trying to work his backhand but made some mistakes in the first five games, so I slowed it down and that worked. He started missing and my confidence improved. He seemed to tire in the first set at 4-4 and began limping around.”
In fact, at 1-2 in the second set the Czech asked for the trainer to be called.
Nefve is hoping history repeats itself and he can emulate last year’s Under-12 winner, Gianni Ross. “We live within a few blocks of one another and play at the same club. There’s not a tournament where I don’t get to see him.”
According to US coach Phil Cello, there are a lot of similarities between the two players. “Gianni was a surprise qualifier last year and also put out a seed early on. He won a couple of really close matches to win the tournament.”
Nefve plays Viktor Banczi of the Slovak Republic in the next round.