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Bradenton teen reaches French Open girls final

Whitney Osuigwe of the United States follows through on a shot during the 2016 Metropolia Orange Bowl International Tennis Championship at the Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation in December. Osuigwe is in her first Grand Slam junior final on Saturday in Paris.
Whitney Osuigwe of the United States follows through on a shot during the 2016 Metropolia Orange Bowl International Tennis Championship at the Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation in December. Osuigwe is in her first Grand Slam junior final on Saturday in Paris. Rob Foldy

Whitney Osuigwe says in her online bio that her favorite tennis surface is clay.

The Bradenton teenager is showing why this week.

Osuigwe is scheduled to face fellow American Claire Liu on Saturday for the girls junior title at the French Open at Roland Garros, Paris.

The 15-year-old Osuigwe, the seventh seed, advanced to her first Grand Slam junior final by outlasting 11th-seeded Elena Rybakina of Russia, 6-4, 6-4, in Friday’s semifinals. The 17-year-old Liu, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., advanced by beating unseeded Russian Marta Paigina, 6-2, 6-0. Liu is the sixth seed.

Saturday will be the first all-American girls junior final since 1980 at Roland Garros and only the second overall. Kathy Horvath defeated Kelly Henry in the 1980 girls final. Only three other Americans have won the French Open girls singles title: Ann Smith (1977), Bonnie Gadusek (1981) and Jennifer Capriati (1989).

The final is scheduled to follow the boys singles final on Court No. 1. The boys singles final is scheduled for for 5 a.m. (EDT).

Osuigwe and Liu faced each other in mid-April in the semifinal of the adidas Easter Bowl Championships with Liu winning 6-1, 6-1 on the hardcourts of Indian Wells, Calif.

Osuigwe, the fifth-ranked junior in the world, is coached by her father, Desmond, who is a teaching pro at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. Osuigwe, who attends and trains at IMG Academy, would be the ninth-youngest girls singles champion at the French Open, at 15 years, 1 month and 24 days — just over one month older than Justine Henin when she won the Roland Garros girls title, in 1997.

Osuigwe started the year with two clay court titles: the 37th Asuncion Bowl, in Lambare, Paraguay, and the 47th Banana Bowl, in Sao Simao Criciuma, Brazil. In her most recent tournament, she lost in the quarterfinals at the 58th Trofeo Bonfiglio, a clay court event in Milan, Italy. On the junior circuit this year, she is 22-3. On the pro circuit she is 2-2.

Liu, who is coached by Mike Gennette, is ranked No. 4 in the world among juniors and No. 351 in the WTA rankings. In the weeks leading up to the French, she won singles titles at two $25,000 pro events, in Naples, Fla., and Caserta, Italy. In 2015, Liu was profiled as part ofSports Illustrated's 'Faces in the Crowd' feature after winning her first pro title at 14.

This marks the second consecutive year at least one American has reached the French Open girls singles final. Last year, Amanda Anisimova reached the final as a 14-year old. Four of the the girls singles quarterfinalists this year were American, including Anisimova and Caty McNally.

French Open

What: Women’s singles final

When: Saturday, 9 a.m.

Where: Roland Garros, Paris

Matchup:

TV: NBC

Note: The girls singles final is scheduled for 5 a.m. and is not televised.

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