Krueger Falls to Qualifier Ram-Harel, Qualifiers Mmoh and Black Get First US Open Main Draw Wins
Two of the wins came from unlikely sources, with 14-year-old qualifiers Tornado Black and Michael Mmoh picking up victories in their junior slam debuts. Black defeated Oleksandra Korashvili of Ukraine, No. 30 in the ITF junior rankings, 6-3, 6-4, and Mmoh downed Gabriel Friedrich of Brazil 6-4, 6-3.
Mmoh was part of the USA's 14-and-under team that won the ITF World Junior Tennis competition just a couple of weeks ago, but he said a more recent victory was actually what gave him the confidence to win today.
"I was lucky to get through the qualifying, I had to save a match point," said Mmoh, who defeated No. 3 seed Jorge Panta Herreros of Peru 4-6, 7-6(7), 3-0 ret. in a nearly four-hour match in the final round of qualifying Saturday. "Beating that last guy, who was like 60 ITF, that gave me a lot of confidence. I see a lot of players who are ranked high, and I think I can beat them, but I don't have the confidence yet. That win really helped my confidence."
Mmoh hadn't played Friedrich before, but he inquired about the 30th-ranked Brazilian's game style from another 14-year-old who had.
"I asked (Stefan) Kozlov about him, and he told me a bit about his game, so I guessed that helped me. He had a big forehand, very dangerous, and his serve was also pretty good. His movement wasn't as good as some of his other stuff."
Mmoh was happy to take advantage of that , and was determined to play with a more dynamic strategy now that he's playing in the 18s.
"In the 12s, I wasn't very aggressive, was more of a counterpuncher," said Mmoh, who is 6-foot-1. "I am working every day on getting way more aggressive. My dad, who was former Top 100, he's always telling me I can't be a counterpuncher, I've got to go for the ball. This match, I felt like I was really aggressive."