France to the fore after top seeds stumble
Men's champion Hugo Gaston leads France’s four-medal haul while Facundo Diaz Acosta delivers big for Argentina.
As top seeds started falling in the early rounds of tennis action at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, less fancied players got the opportunity to make a name for themselves.
France’s Hugo Gaston seized full advantage and will leave Buenos Aires with three medals.
He started his collection with gold after victory over Facundo Diaz Acosta (ARG) in the men’s singles final that did little to endear him to the passionate home support. It marked the first Olympic tennis medal for France since Arnaud Di Pasquale’s bronze at the Sydney 2000 Games.
Gaston also collected bronze medals in the men’s and mixed doubles where he partnered Clement Tabur (FRA) and Clara Burel (FRA) respectively, while Burel earned women’s singles silver to bring the French medal tally to four.
“This (tournament) feels bigger,” said Gaston, who was seeded third and served as France’s flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony. “For me I think it will be one of the best memories of my life.”
Kaja Juvan (SLO) celebrates winning match point in the women’s singles final.
The tournament will also live long in the mind of Diaz Acosta, who partnered Sebastian Baez (ARG) to win men’s doubles gold. Baez, an initial favourite to win individual gold, made an early exit in round three of men’s singles, while No.1 seed Chun Hsin Tseng (TPE) was knocked out the same day by Diaz Acosta, who was seeded eighth.
“The truth is there are no words to explain it to you - it’s huge,” said Diaz Acosta, who could count Argentina’s 1988 Olympic tennis silver medallist, Gabriela Sabatini, among the 5,500 spectators who turned out for each of his finals.
“And it’s not just about us, it’s about all those who came here to support us, our family, our team. We dedicate this to all of them.”
On the women’s side, Kaya Juvan (SLO) fought through nagging leg and ankle injuries to win singles gold in straight sets and she partnered with Iga Swiatek (POL) for a hard-fought win in doubles over Japan’s Yuki Naito and Naho Sato.
“I feel like I’m going to wake up any time now and it’s not going to be real,” said Juvan. “I’m just so grateful. I was in so much pain. The physios helped me, the team helped me, the team spirit, and the crowd. It was absolutely amazing, and I just feel like I owe it to everyone.”
At least 5,500 fans packed the stands to watch the men’s doubles final (Florian Eisele for OIS/IOC)
In mixed doubles, Naito partnered teammate Naoki Tajima (JPN) to win gold over Colombia’s Maria Camila Osorio Serrano and Nicolas Mejia. It was the second medal for Osorio Serrano, who won bronze in women’s singles.
“It was a very good level of competition,” said Sabatini, who took in two days of medals action. “All of them are winning the main junior tournaments and are here playing, and this is what it means to represent your country, to be in the Youth Olympics.”