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Vekic reached her first WTA final in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, last year at 15 _ the youngest WTA finalist in seven years _ and was the youngest player in the main draw at the Australian Open.

These days, teenagers are restricted in how many top-level tournaments they can play, a change enacted in response to Jennifer Capriati’s troubled teen years. Capriati struggled with the pressures of the tour after cracking the top 10 at 14 and left the sport, burned out, at 17. She began a successful comeback two years later.

Players younger than 15 are mostly prevented from playing at the WTA level, while those between 15 and 18 are limited in the number of tournaments they’re allowed to play. The effect is teenagers are staying at the junior level longer, making it tougher for them to eventually make the jump to the top flight.

Although most lost their second-round matches at Melbourne Park, the younger players did show tremendous potential. Under a blazing sun on Court 7, 18-year-old Yulia Putintseva, who was born in Russia but represents Kazakhstan, lost a tight three-setter to Spanish veteran Carla Suarez Navarro. She fought to the very end, pumping her fists and punctuating every point with a ferocious “Come on!”

On the court next to her, fellow 18-year-old Daria Gavrilova of Russia was locked in a tense match with Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko. Shuttling between the two was Hingis _ the youngest Grand Slam champion of the 20th century _ who has been helping both players as a coach at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy outside Paris.

After her match, Putintseva alternated between giggles and confident boasts about her future. She said she was working on controlling her temper and was proud she didn’t break any rackets on Thursday.

“In a match like this, I would (normally) break five,” she said, laughing.

Putintseva also feels ready to move beyond the juniors, which she has found limiting. “I think I have the level to play already these (Grand Slam) tournaments,” she said. Part of the reason is Hingis, who has been helping her learn to handle the pressures of the sport.

“I hope that she’ll continue to work with me and we try to win a Grand Slam together,” she said, with more giggles.