For the first time since 2001, the top two seeds will meet in the US Open boys singles final on Sunday.
Hours after top-seeded Axel Geller of Argentina booked his spot in the championship with a 6-1, 7-6 win over unseeded Russian Timofey Skatov on Saturday, second-seeded Wu Yibing of China staved off two match points to turn back the challenge of unnseeded Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6.
No. 1 Gilles Muller of Luxembourg beat Yeu-Tuzoo Wang of Taipei in 2001 in the last final between the the top seeds.
Since the US Open junior event was introduced in 1973, no Chinese player has won the junior boys' crown. Only one Argentine has won: David Nalbandian in 1998.
There should be no surprises in the championship match, as both finalists know each other's games well and have been frequent practice partners this week. This is Wu's first Grand Slam singles final, while Geller was Wimbledon runner-up at the start of the summer.
Wu saved double match point on his serve at 5-6 in the final set. He fought off the first with a booming service winner and then escaped the next when Ruusuvuori netted a backhand .
In the tiebreak, Wu had a 4-2 lead, but double-faulted for 4-3. Ruusuvuori, who is expected to be a mainstay on his country's Davis Cup team for years to come, could not capitalize, dropping a backhand into the net on the next point. He held serve to get close at 4-5, but Wu served out the next two points to take the tiebreak 7-4 and close out the one hour, 53 minute tussle.
For his part, Geller was overpowering in the opening 24-minute set of his match. Using his 6-foot-3 frame to the max, the incoming Stanford University freshman consistently bombed in first serves at 120-plus mph, and never faced a break point.. After breaking serve for a 3-1 lead, the lanky Argentine blasted a 129 mph ace to hold serve for 4-1. He wrapped up the set with a 134 mph ace. Skatov made 17 unforced errors in the set.
The Russian made a strategic adjustment to grind his way back into the match. Instead of taking big swings on his service returns, he began to slice and punch them back to get into the point. From there, the 5-foot 8 Russian Junior Davis Cup team member was able to hold his own on the lenghty and exhausting baseline exchanges that dominated the rest of the 84-minute match.
After an early exchange of service breaks, the rest of the set stayed on serve into the tiebreak. Skatov took a quick 2-0 lead but went down 4-5, giving Geller the chance to serve out the match on the next two points.
Instead, it was the Russian who won the next two points, the first with a backhand winner and then on a Geller error, to take a 6-5 lead and earn the chance to serve out the set. Geller stiffened, cracking a forehand winner. Skatov got another set point at 7-6 that Geller saved with a119 mph unreturnable serve.
At 7-7, Geller hit an almost identical serve that Skatov netted with a forehand, losing the tiebreak 9-7.
"I just tried to be focused and play my game," Geller told the crowd on Court 17 that including a few of his future Stanford teammates.
Also on Saturday, the first junior champions of 2017 were crowned, with top seeds Hsu Yu Hsiou and Wu Yibing edging the unseeded squad of Toru Horie and Yuta Shimizu, 6-4, 5-7 [11-9].