Again there is a Belgian (m/f) in the junior final of the Australian Open. Twelve months ago, Sofia Costoulas couldn’t make it in the Rod Laver Arena, on Saturday night around 03:30 AM Belgian time, Alexander Blockx (ITF 10) can/could do better in the same place.
No matter how it ends in Melbourne, Blockx’s course is worthy of note. In his five previous singles matches, he only conceded one set. In addition, he also reached the final as a doubles player, which he lost together with the Brazilian Joao. That’s how it took work load firm shapes. The 17-year-old from Antwerp played a total of five matches on Thursday and Friday.
Together with Gilles Arnaud Bailly, the number 1 among the juniors and losing finalist at both Roland-Garros and the US Open last year, Blockx must carry Belgian tennis in this decade. Without unexpected developments, David Goffin will remain a fixture in the sub-top / middle bracket for a few years, but that teenage duo should be able to replace him over time. The road is of course still very long. On the ATP ranking, Blockx is 1306th, Bailly 1018th.
Both have already had a taste of the ‘real thing’ last year. Captain Johan Van Herck included the duo in his Davis Cup team, which played against Germany in Hamburg and will also take Blockx to South Korea next week. They received a wildcard at the European Open in Antwerp. In a conversation with RTBF, Van Herck stated how much he believes in that duo. “I know Alexander from my time at Tennis Vlaanderen, where he trained at the age of eleven. He has a huge feeling for the game and has the right attitude. With the right guidance, they can build a bright future.”
Goffin himself also believes in the duo. “They are two beautiful athletes. At their age, I looked at least two years younger. They both have an excellent mentality. Alexander may have to firm up a bit, although he already hits the ball very hard. They can take each other to greater heights.”
Blockx, whose parents are of Ukrainian origin, has long been one of the better players in his age group on an international level. He is the first Belgian finalist ever at the Australian Open in the boys division. An-Sophie Mestach, winner in 2011, and Sofia Costoulas, did it for the girls. If Blockx wins, he succeeds two Belgian boys with a grand slam: Jacky Brichant in 1947 and Kimmer Coppejans in 2012, both in Paris.