Khimki, Russia - The new tennis year has been welcomed in style at the Category 1 14 & Under RWB Christmas Cup. Tiaja Sretenovic from Serbia claimed the girls title while Maxim Zhukov won the boys’ title on home soil. The boys’ doubles champions were French pair Gabriel Debru & Clement Kubiak, while Russian top seeds Yaroslava Bartashevic & Anastasiia Gureva won the girls’ doubles.
Girls’ eleventh seed Sretenovich was the breakthrough player of the tournament. Having won three Category 3 singles titles in the first half of 2018, the Serb earned her first Category 1 win with some amazing play throughout the tournament. She saw off the fifth and fourth seeds on route to the semi-finals. There, she had a three-set win over Lucie Havlickova (CZE), who had earlier defeated top seed Gureva (RUS). Another unheralded player, eighth seed Elena Pridankina from Russia, would advance to the final after having seen off the sixth and third seeds. This was her first finals appearance since Baku at the beginning of 2018. After a tight first set, Sretenovic ran away with the match, posting a 7-5 6-1 win to claim the biggest title of her young career.
Although eliminated as top singles seed, Gureva made up for disappointment by taking the doubles title with her compatriot Bartashevic. In what was an all-Russian final, they won 6-4 2-6 10-8 over Alevtina Ibragimova & Pridankina - another runner-up trophy for Pridankina in a very productive tournament for her.
In 2017, Zhukov won three category 3 and one category 2 event and was a finalist at one other. In Khimki, he notched his first Category 1 title by defeating German sixth seed Georg Eduard Israelan 6-4 6-1. He had earlier gone past the #1 seed from Serbia, Branko Djuric, in a tough three-set semi-final tussle. Israelan had earlier upset the second seeded Romanian Mihai Alexandru Coman in the quarters, before causing another slight upset in the semis, taking out fifth seeded Swiss player, Patrick Schoen in straight sets. There was some consolation for Schoen & Coman, teaming up to finish as runners-up in the boys’ doubles, where they went down to Debru & Kubiak 6-4 6-4 in the decider.
The new year was ushered in with great fanfare. The organizers put on an impressive tournament for the players, filled with amazing activities and entertainment. There was tennis in the snow in Red Square, a great welcome party, and many other interesting events in keeping with the tournament’s festive theme. This is the first of several category one tournaments to take place this month and kicks off the month of January in style. The Kremlin Cup is already under way, and will be followed later in the month by big events in Bolton and Tarbes ahead of the Tennis Europe Winter Cups by HEAD.
Also in play this week were 12 & Under tournaments in Russia and France. For full results from Khimki, as well as other results in all events and categories elsewhere from this past week, please click here, or to view the latest photo galleries, click here.