Unseeded American Chase Buchanan knew he had his work cut out for him in the US Open boys final today against the No. 3 seed Bernard Tomic of Australia. But in his first meeting with the Aussie, who’s listed at 6-foot-4 but with his lanky build appears taller, he found out first hand what makes this talented 16-year-old so effective.
Tomic, who won the 2008 Australian Open Juniors at the ripe age of 15, hits with very little topspin and manages to keep his opponents off balance by mixing floating slice shots with huge, flatly hit ground strokes. He broke Buchanan in the fourth game, and never looked back, steamrolling the 18-year-old American — the last U.S. player standing in the junior draw, 6-1, 6-3.
"I thought it was going to be a tough match in the first few games, but I think I figured him out quickly, and that was what made me win in straight sets," said Tomic, who also reached the semis of the Wimbledon juniors in 2008 and 2009 and is currently ranked 324 in the world on the men’s pro tour.
After the match Buchanan, winner of the USTA boys 18 national title, was a mixture of impressed and perplexed.
“He’s got a weird game to play against,’’ Buchanan said, looking drained after having to win two matches on Saturday, including a win over the No. 1 seed Yuki Bhambri of India, both played indoors at the Sound Shore Racquet Club in Port Chester, N.Y., due to rain. “He slices a lot, he doesn’t hit with topspin. He didn’t play a big game, but he played a smart game.’’
In the boy's final, Buchanan actually had four break points in the third game but failed to convert.
"I think that was the turning point of the match,'' said Tomic, who many feel is the future for Australian men's pro tennis and who is coached by his father. "You know, if he had got that game, it would be totally different. I hit the right shots at the right time and got that game.''
Despite coming up short, Buchanan, unseeded here, was understandably satisfied with his New York experience, which included a wild card into the men’s draw here, where he lost in the first round in straight sets to the No. 7 seed Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.
“If I keep going, playing guys like that will get easier and easier,’’ the American said.
Buchanan would like to follow a similar path as fellow U.S. young gun Devin Britton, who lost in the final of the U.S. Open boys tournament last year, but then went on to win the NCAA singles title in 2009 while at University of Mississippi. Either way, he’s happy he’s in school.
“I think a lot of people think if you go to college that’s the end of your tennis,’’ he said, pointing out that there’s a number of college players that would have done well here at the US Open juniors. “I feel like you are fully capable of playing professional tennis if you go to college.”