MANILA, Philippines - Third-ranked Kimberly Birrell of Australia fought back from a set down to stun top seed Katie Boulter of Great Britain, 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (3), and barge into the finals of the girls division in the 25th Mitsubishi International Junior Tennis Championships at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center yesterday.
Fourth pick Kang Ku Keon of South Korea also pulled off a reversal in the boys’ side, booting out No. 1 Harry Bourchier, 7-6(5), 6-3, in the semis to sustain the surge of the less-fancied bets in the weeklong tournament featuring some of the world’s leading junior players.
It will be Birrell’s first finals appearance in a Grade 1 tournament, one notch under the Junior Grand Slam, following a pair of quarterfinal efforts in Malaysia and Thailand the last two weeks.
It was also Birrell’s second win in three face-offs with Boulter after losing the first, also in three sets, in Korea last year and winning the next two, including a straight set win back home in Australia early this year.
“I practically knew what to expect against her (Boulter) going into this match and needed to be more aggressive to win,” said the 15-year-old Queensland native, whose biggest performance to date was a semifinal finish in the Australian Open last January.
Birrell goes for the crown against No. 14 Gloria Liang of Canada, who booked the other finals slot by downing No. 15 Raveena Kingsley of the US, 6-3, 6-4, in a victory fashioned out in one hour, 15 minutes.
“I’m feeling good with my win today (yesterday), hopefully I could win it,” said Birrell.
The power-hitting Boulter failed to sustain a hot start, losing steam in the decider after being dragged into three three-setters.
Kang, for his part, will take on unseeded Rhett Purcell of Great Britain, who trounced No. 8 Bogdan Bobrov of Russia, 6-0, 6-1.
Purcell’s other seeded victims included No. 5 Chung Yunseong and No. 11 Alexander Klintcharov of New Zealand.