Xiyu Wang overcame early nerves to wrap up a stellar junior season with the 2018 US Open girls' singles title on Sunday.
The third-seeded Wang defeated No. 11 seed Clara Burel of France, 7-6, 6-2, inside Louis Armstrong Stadium, to put a cap on a fantastic year that included a run to the semifinals at Wimbledon as well as quarterfinals appearances in both Paris and Melbourne.
"In the first set I was a little bit nervous," Wang said. "But I try to get used to in the big court, try to enjoy this match. Yeah, it's only happy. I think maybe my mom is cry."
A rollercoaster of an opening set saw six breaks of serve in 12 games, with Wang failing to serve out the set at 5-3, then Burel squandering her chance to do the same at 6-5.
At 5-3, Burel missed a volley on break point then netted an attempted passing shot on the backhand side. Wang missed two set points with a pair of forehand misses—one down the line, the other crosscourt—before Burel went on to break when her passing shot was redirected into the net.
But the Frenchwoman could not make the most of the reprieve and it was Wang who rode the momentum into the tiebreak, winning five of the final six points.
"I think it's very important," Wang said. "But I'm not think too much, just play a game. So that's it."
Photos: Junior girls' singles final
Burel couldn't highlight a definitive turning point in the match, instead focusing on the final seqeunce of events in an up-and-down opener: "Maybe the whole end of the first set and the tiebreak," she said. "It was the most important moment of the match, that's for sure. That was the key of the match. I know if I won this tiebreak it will be maybe better."
Wang earned a break in the third game of the second set for a 2-1 advantage, and she gave herself extra breathing room with a second break at 4-2. Burel saved the first break point at 15-40 in the seventh game, but she sprayed a forehand wide, handing Wang a decisive 5-2 lead that allowed her to serve out the championship.
"I'm not very proud of me because I lost in the final, but a good week and I will try to stay positive," Burel said after the match. Even if I lost this final, it was a great match. We played both well. It's a great season. I made two finals, but I'm still disappointed to lose in my second Grand Slam final."
The 17-year-old from China said she tried not to think about the losses in the other Grand Slams this year, instead trying to focus on each opponent.
"I'm not think too much because just try to play my game and play every point," said Wang, who said this was her final junior Slam before she transitions to the main WTA Tour in 2019. "Different kind of opponent."
In the girls' doubles finale, Cori 'Coco' Gauff and Caty McNally beat Hailey Baptiste and Dalayna Hewitt, 6-3, 6-2, to win the championship in only their second tournament together.
"It means so much, especially because it's like a home Slam for both of us," said McNally, who previously lost the junior doubles final with Whitney Osuigwe and won the French Open girls' doubles title with Iga Swiatek. "I've never done that well I feel like at this tournament, but this year I did better than I did last year in singles and in doubles so I'm really happy we could take the title."
For Gauff, who beat her doubles partner in singles play at Roland-Garros in May, the win gives her a second major title, after she won the girls' singles title in Paris.
"The US Open is my favorite Slam, I always have good results here in New York," said Gauff, who reached the singles final last summer. "I was super-excited when we won because I really didn't want to let Caty down, because she's unreal. I felt like I did step my game up to level up with her."
Gauff and McNally broke three times in each set, dominating from the beginning despite being broken twice in the opener and once in the second set.
Gauff double-faulted three times with a 4-1 lead in the second, but the pair, who first played together at the Maureen Connolly Challenge Trophy in Eastbourne, England, broke right back before serving out the match.
"I thought we played really well today," McNally said. "We did a good job, especially when we got the breaks to back it up by holding serve. I think we were more aggressive and that helped a lot."
Added 14-year-old Gauff: "I was nervous and Caty was great, she was telling me to calm down and relax, we were still up in the lead. She was good, calming me down, and I was able to play my game."
After the victory, McNally praised the depth of American tennis, on display in the juniors this week just as it was when four U.S. women contested the women's semifinals in the main draw last year.
"It's definitely really bright," said 16-year-old Ohio native McNally, who served out the match to love. "I think it's really awesome that the final can be four Americans, it just shows that we're all doing really well. For me, I think it's important to play singles and doubles just because sometimes you'll go out in the first round but you can build off those doubles matches and get confidence and rhythm and experience in the match play. It's good we all got to the finals."