Tennis Prose



Coco Came, Coco Saw, And Coco Is Going To Conquer

Two days ago Coco Gauff declared boldly she intends to be surpass Serena, Graf, Court and Navratilova to become the greatest female tennis player of all time.

Extravagent words from a dimunitive youngster. So I decided to watch her AO second rounder vs veteran Sorana Cirstea with critical eyes.

Coco is a very extraordinary young tennis player. She already has the game and the mind to thwart rugged veterans like Cirstea, which she dispatched last night 46 63 75. But it was the manner though that left one in awe.

Cirstea is 29 years old and has won over 440 WTA matches but the Romanian could not subdue this precocious American. Cirstea threw the kitchen sink at the kid and it was not enough.

Coco was down 3-0 in the third set and in danger of falling down the second break but she willed her way back into the match. She has another level of play that she can go to, some call it beast mode, but I think it’s something else.

When Coco is threatened with losing the match, she transforms herself and becomes a different animal, like a morph of Serena Williams and Lleyton Hewitt.

She becomes tenacious and feverishly desperate, she raises her play and then punctuates every won point with a loud, antagonistic, aggressive CMONNNN!!!! Every single point she yells CMONNNN, like vintage prime Hewitt. And the combination of winning play and the CMONNNS propel her to a super girl, it’s like a symbiotic combination of super play and emotional adrenaline that creates an almost unbeatable state of mind and play.

Coco’s CMONNNS are ferocious and fierce. I can’t quite tell if they are directed at her box or to the opponent. Maybe both. She roars her CMONNs with a furious staredown that screams a far more extensive message: “Cmon girl, I am here to kick your ass, bring it, bring your best, bring more than that bitch, you have no idea who you are messing with, I am here to be the greatest, and I believe I can be the greatest! If you want to stop me go ahead and try – CMONN!! – but I am here to say no, NO, NO!!! I am here to kick yo ass and be the greatest. I have a natural inborn fire and intensity even greater than Serena and Hewitt!!!! I have to win, I must win, I am all in on this, this is not just a hobby or a game, this is survival, this is making all my dreams come true. Cmonnnn!! Bring it to me!!!”

Coco’s CMONS are super aggressive and in your face and this little girl intimidates like a young Mike Tyson. Cirstea had no answers, no extra gear to match Coco’s intensity. Coco’s intensity overwhelms most players even now and in time it will overwhelm everybody. Coco actually may be a superior champion than the one we have witnessed these last two decades. Like Federer actually was superior to Pistol Pete.

Coco’s game is enough, she is a fine athlete, excellent mover, fighter and her weaponry is sufficient and excessive. Keep in mind the Coco game is not complete yet. The backhand will be the best in the game soon. Maybe it is already. The forehand is criticized because it is the lone flaw right now as it can fall apart for stretches but then she fixes it and it too becomes a weapon. Cirstea tried to exploit Coco’s western grip and did provoke many errors but then it fixed and afflicted Cirstea with many winners.

Cirstea kept her cool despite blowing the 3-0 lead in the third set, she still expected to prevail with her experience. But she could not measure Coco, she could not figure her out to make her fall apart.

It was Cirstea who cracked at the end. A victim of a tornado like storm of amazing tennis generated by the most exciting, awesome, overwhelming sensation the sport has seen in many years.

This is only the beginning of the Coco Gauff reign of tennis supremacy. Nothing will stop her insatiable thirst and hunger for tennis greatness.

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  • Hartt · January 23, 2020 at 7:41 am

    What did Simon say?

    I think the other players like Rafa, he won the Stefan Edberg good sportsmanship award, voted on by the players, this year. It was the 2nd time he has won it.

  • Hartt · January 23, 2020 at 7:49 am

    I see that Fritz won against Anderson in 5 sets, a big win for the youngster.

    I had some nervous moments during the match TB between Khavhanov and Ymer, but Karen did prevail. The Swedish youngster, Ymer the Younger, has been doing well over the last few months.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 23, 2020 at 8:20 am

    Jeff I saw osaka tank that loss to Serena too. She was afraid to beat mom.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 23, 2020 at 8:21 am

    Simon spoke so kindly of Rafa in facing nadal. Wonder what happened.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 23, 2020 at 8:22 am

    Knew Fritz was capable of top ten or five, this win proves it. Anderson was excellent in ATP cup.

  • jackson · January 23, 2020 at 8:26 am

    Hartt, Rafa has won the player-voted Edberg Sportsmanship Award three times – a few years ago and now two years in a row.

    I’m not surprised Kyrgios would be disrespectful towards Rafa but I’m very disappointed Simon joined in too. Simon has always been very complimentary about Rafa in previous comments.

    Almost simultaneously on another court Rafa accidentally hit a ball girl with a shot and immediate ran over to check on her and lifted up the lid of her cap to give her a kiss on the cheek. The Australian crowd went nuts over Rafa’s concern and actions. Then after the match Rafa went to her again to check on her and give her a small gift (his smelly old headband 😀 ) before he went out on court to celebrate, again to the great joy of the crowd.

    So Kyrgios, and now Simon, can go suck a sweaty wet towel.

  • Hartt · January 23, 2020 at 8:47 am

    A Rafan on another site reported the incident with the ball girl. As I said then, Rafa is a true gentleman!

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 23, 2020 at 8:58 am

    I like this Nick vs Rafa grudge, it’s intriguing in an Ali-Frazier, Maria-Serena, McEnroe-Jimbo way. It’s nice to see two players who despise each other battle it out. Wonder if Nick will bring in Bouchard to sit in his box again like he did at Wimbledon. This time wonder if he will open up that can of worms about what happened between Rafa and Bouchard.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 23, 2020 at 8:59 am

    Rafa is the ultimate champion of sports history IMO. But on the court in the heat of battle he is an axe murderer 🙂

  • catherine · January 23, 2020 at 9:14 am

    Fashion notes: adidas have the best outfits for the AO. IMO. Nike variable, Fila usual classic style. Some look like a mix up in the laundry.

    On court – Svito managed the win, Putintseva outhit Collins in 3.

    Quote from Muguruza attracted a few comments – my interpretation is that she wants to think in a simple way and see things clearly but often can’t do so and ends in a muddle. Conchita might help her with that.

  • Hartt · January 23, 2020 at 9:14 am

    Scoop, I don’t imagine Bouchard is still in Melbourne, to be available to support anyone.

  • Andrew Miller · January 23, 2020 at 9:20 am

    Scoop, that rumor only lives on TP. We’ll have to wait for Bouchard’s memoir to confirm or deny any of this innuendo.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 23, 2020 at 9:28 am

    This info lives in the tenis world and my irrefutable sources insist it’s true. Never ever question the sources of, I would never lead you astray. My sources are the best. Kyrgios was playing some kind of mind game with Rafa by inviting Bouchard to sit in his box during their Wimbledon showdown. Be 1000% sure of that.

  • Andrew Miller · January 23, 2020 at 9:30 am

    Five U.S. men in round three and at least one in round four. This is a good tournament for U.S. men.

  • Andrew Miller · January 23, 2020 at 9:40 am

    Rumors deserve challenges. Just the way rumors are. These kinds of things don’t become public knowledge. I’ve heard some unfortunate things about Bajin as well that live on social media. Sportswriters hint at things sometimes but they say them in a way where they can be overlooked and are only recalled when the next instance of bad judgment erupts regarding a player, coach, etc. Sportswriters/journalists to me go ahead and write in a way to reveal but conceal what’s happening, so that at a later date they can write about it more plainly for another kind of feature and won’t be accused of using kid gloves, and they can say to the effect, “I had heard of this, but at the time it wasn’t a significant part of the story, and in hindsight it was a larger part”.

    I’m sure that players lives are more obvious in person, but unless you’re Kyrgios and you publicly humiliate Vekic and Wawrinka players, coaches, etc show more discretion in airing their laundry.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 23, 2020 at 9:44 am

    Andrew, the source is a pro shop in Bradenton near IMG, pro players would come in there and tell all kinds of stories – some controversial ones within ear shot of customers! It was a fun experience going to that place every time, there was a good chance a pro or former pro would be there pickig up racquets or whatever. I saw Mandlickova, Vacek, Julia Cohen there. Even Rios went there a few times, he was friends with the owner. Rios even invited the owner to his house. Big time insider stories. I only got a drop in the bucket too. Special place. The pro tennis world is a matrix with two sides.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 23, 2020 at 9:46 am

    I think it’s just about safe to say USA tennis is officially back. We now have four young players who are capable of making at least a major semifinal (or better) – Fritz, Opelka, Sandgren and Paul. The success of this quartet will surely inspire Escobedo, Donaldson, Mmoh, Rubin Wolfe, Cressy, Kozlov, to get on their horses.

  • catherine · January 23, 2020 at 10:00 am

    Scoop – you believe idle chat you hear in a pro shop with any passer by ear-wigging away and repeating down the line ?

    Seriously ?

    I don’t believe that Bouchard rumour either. Genie probably started it herself.

    (Note – I haven’t said what it was, any libel lawyers reading T-P)

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 23, 2020 at 10:17 am

    Catherine, friends with the owner and former chief stringer. They told me a LOT. What is your theory on why Bouchard sat in Nick’s box last year at Wimbledon vs Rafa? Just a coincidence?

  • Jon King · January 23, 2020 at 10:27 am

    This is cracking me up because we have the same situation here. A tennis shop that serves most of SE. FL. Everyone strings there because the stringers are considered the best. Probably 20 big name pros, all the areas top juniors and college players go there.

    We have been great friends with the owner and stringers for about 10 years. The stories we have heard through the years!!

  • catherine · January 23, 2020 at 10:58 am

    Lots of people tell stories, gossip, not just in tennis, because it gives them a sense of importance. In the UK we’re deluged with stuff in the media from ‘sources’ and ‘royal insiders’ – probably the street cleaners outside Buckingham Palace.

    We all heard stories from muck raking reporters trying to squeeze some more scandal – usually in a pub where they paid for the drinks. The bad thing – you could tell them almost anything and they’d print it. From ‘a source’.

    I’m more with Andrew overall. As for online generally – plenty of rumours repeated over and over. 1 in 1000 might be true. I’ve also seen some stuff about Bajin, pre Naomi.

    Bouchard – that was a prank. Nick’s idea of a joke. And yes, I tend to think Genie started that one herself. It’s the kind of thing she’d do because it wouldn’t hurt her at all and Nadal wasn’t going to say anything.

  • Andrew Miller · January 23, 2020 at 10:59 am

    Umm Kyrgios and Beatrice Bouchard. All TT readers know this.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 23, 2020 at 11:19 am

    Nobody knows the Nadal involvement though ) I’m shocked Nadal is wearing a pink shirt, pink shoes. Remember when Dominik Hrbaty wore that pink shirt and how much attention it generated? Now pink it like a regular male color like blue or green. Nobody bats an eye. Of all colors, why is Nadal wearing pink? is there some kind of agenda of feminizing male sports heroes going on? Pink on the world’s best tennis player just seems odd.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 23, 2020 at 11:21 am

    Jon, hope you’re able to share a few of those insider stories here in 2020! I know they’ll all be true too. Liars and fake news clowns don’t last long in any business.

  • Andrew Miller · January 23, 2020 at 11:30 am

    Seems players have an interest in discretion and when there are violations there it’s ugly. A case in point, the bizarre Kyrgios taunting Wawrinka over Vekic and Kokkinakis, with Ryan Harrison somehow defending someone in then going after Kokkinakis IN PERSON after their qualies match, after which, if he already wasn’t concerned, expressed he couldn’t sleep because it was bizarre. That was a confusing hot mess.

  • catherine · January 23, 2020 at 11:37 am

    If Naomi loses to Gauff I will say with certainty that Fisette is not the right coach for her.

  • catherine · January 23, 2020 at 11:45 am

    Andrew – most players have an interest in discretion, for obvious reasons. A pact. It was Nick’s violation of that which shocked a lot of people. He had that nasty little streak then, not so much now.

    (In former times Stan would have called Nick out and there would have been tennis racquets at dawn.)

  • Andrew Miller · January 23, 2020 at 11:51 am

    Can’t really trust the rumor mill too much. I will make one observation – a lot of reporters make the mistake of believing that when a player says they don’t believe in friends on tour (see: Bouchard) that they even mean it.

    I saw Bouchard practicing with plenty of female players including Mladenovic (who was over-joyed to play a few good points against Bouchard). They all seemed on good terms. Whole thing was overblown because of the Bouchard-Robson thing.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 23, 2020 at 11:51 am

    Bouchard’s presence at that Nick vs Rafa match at Wimbledon was bizarre and it added a mysterious twist. Why? Anybody who thinks it was a mere coincidence isn’t paying attention. Nick was sending a message. Mind games work in tennis, remember when Becker was flirting with Shields vs Agassi at Wimbledon and it helped him comeback and wi the match?

  • Andrew Miller · January 23, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Catherine, yes, I think players more or less live by a code, “keep it in the family”. Things surface during a match and it’s framed by reporting as “bad blood”, without any apparent reason for it. Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn’t (one way or the other, the public won’t know).

    I think it’s true reporters come across details all the time but they shelve them or reference in an oblique way, e.g. “clearly bothered by something”, “didn’t seem to be himself” etc. Coaches address it in a round-about way too – maybe Michael Joyce was the closest I have seen to saying something along the lines of “such and such player believed more in their Instagram income than their tennis earnings, and it showed” (he didn’t say that, but it was close!).

    Just doesn’t make any sense why any of this would come out otherwise about anyone. There’s a vested interest in keeping things close to the vest. Players may discuss this with their team (e.g., “so and so player is bad for you”, “this is affecting your tennis”, “whatever you are doing is your business but tennis comes first”) etc etc etc. Maybe they vent.

    But are they really venting to their stringer? Or is their stringer just seeing them show up with another player and putting two and two together <– More likely. Even then, not much to go on, not really relevant until it is.

  • Andrew Miller · January 23, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    Beautiful writing, Steve Tignor on Bellis-Muchova.

    “Present was also the fitting word to describe Bellis’ 6-4, 6-4 second-round win on Thursday over 20th seed Karolina Muchova. Moment to moment, shot to shot, point to point, game to game, set to set, Bellis’ focus was unwavering. So intense was Bellis, so engaged was she in earning this win, that the 3,000 fans packed into the Australian Open’s 1573 Arena found themselves thoroughly enthralled.”

    “An inch short of six feet tall, Muchova’s playing style was also a breath of fresh air, permeated with a nice range of spin, shape and forward movement. Versus Bellis, though, Muchova was curiously listless, the tone set in the first game, when she missed four of six first serves and double-faulted at break point down. Even though she broke back to level the set at 3-all, Muchova remained distraught.”

    “The slightly blustery conditions favored Bellis. Akin to such wind geniuses as Rafael Nadal and Lleyton Hewitt, Bellis’ feet churned like pistons as she continually forced Muchova to constantly hit yet one more ball. Perhaps the versatile Muchova possesses more of the temperament of an artist than a warrior.”

    “And yet, given Bellis’ ceaseless presence, what is an unforced error? Over the course of this 83-minute lockdown, Bellis applied pressure with such intent that in rally after rally, Muchova frequently blinked. Even though Muchova was a superb 18 of 24 at the net, her own ability to disrupt Bellis was futile.”

    “Time away has aided Bellis’ technique. Previously, she seemed to be snatching at the ball, her wrists and forearms rolling excessively, often appearing to be making contact late—perhaps factors that contributed to her injuries. This was all gone today, Bellis a model of technical efficiency.”

    I’ll spare you the rest. One of Tignor’s best pieces this year in a career of excellent pieces.

  • Andrew Miller · January 23, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    Sorry, that piece was by Joel Drucker. It was excellent.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 23, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    Andrew, what happens is lower level players and coaches see things and learn things that are stunning. They tell their discoveries and word spreads. People are gonna talk. Might as well give em something to talk about. The tennis world is a very complex universe. The media as we know pretty much only talks about forehands and backhands, as Noah Rubin describes it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 23, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    My Biofile with Cici Bellis. We did this two or three years ago at Miami Open practice courts before she played Serena. Cici is a great interview, as you’re about to learn.

  • Andrew Miller · January 23, 2020 at 12:53 pm

    Men’s results to make round 3
    Wawrinka d. Seppi in five.
    Khachanov d. Ymer in five.
    Verdasco d. Basilashvili
    Popyrin d. Munar (and Spain’s next gen is gone)
    Monfils d. Karlovic
    Kyrgios d. Simon
    Goffin d. Herbert
    Carreno Busta d. Gojo[…]
    Goffin d. Herbert
    Rublev d. Sugita
    Bautista Agut d. Mmoh (good job in getting rd 2 for Mmoh, the forgotten U.S. next gen player!)
    Gulbis d. Bedene
    Thiem d. Bolt in five sets.
    Medvedev d. Martinez (who has done great since qualies at US Open, a fine run)
    Zverev d. Gerasimov

  • Andrew Miller · January 23, 2020 at 1:10 pm

    Women’s draw results:
    Vekic d. Cornet. Quite a good run from Vekic. We have noted her good form for some time now!

    Bencic d. Ostapenko. As said, “Diligence d. Inspiration” <– I'd pay attention to that theme.

    Muguruza d. Tomljanovic in 3. That fact alone given Muguruza's form. Is Muguruza back in business?

    Diyas d. Blinkova in 3. Haven't seen either play 🙁

    Kerber in round 3. amazing. d. Hon.

    Svitolina d. Davis. Another tough match for Svitolina.

    Bertens d. Rodionova. Cautiously optimistic on Bertens!

    Putinseva d. Collin in 3, Collins sees last year's points…vanishing…

    Giorgi d. Kuznetsova. Kusnetsova…

    Halep d. Dart, enjoying time as a top seed.

    Pavlyuchenkova d. Townsend in two. Escapes!

    Swiatek d. Suarez Navarro, another good win for Swiatek!!!

    Kontaveit d. Sorribes Tormo in three, survives!

    Mertens d. Watson. Quietly another good tournament.

  • Andrew Miller · January 23, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    Some predictions for round three:

    Kyrgios to beat Khachanov. It’s a home crowd, now or never kind of match.

    Isner to beat Wawrinka, has nothing to lose.

    Goffin to beat Rublev. Too much game for the kid.

    Verdasco to beat Zverev. It was good while it lasted.

    Paul to beat Fucsovics. Fucsovics likely ends the party, so this is a “would like him to win” versus “will win”

    Raonic to beat Tsitsipas. I think Raonic is playing well and Tsitsipas enters the match cold and screams at himself.

    Schwartzmann to beat Lajovic. I am now a Schwartzman fan given his stellar play at the US Open and this autumn.

  • Andrew Miller · January 23, 2020 at 1:17 pm

    Women’s draw, not brave enough to predict!

  • Hartt · January 23, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    Andrew, outside of Raonic and Schwartzman, you picked against all the guys I hope will win!

  • Andrew Miller · January 23, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    Hartt, my predictions aren’t very informed, your faves are alive and well 🙂

  • Jon King · January 23, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    I can speak to Bellis. When she was young, we saw her training at high performance in Boca. She was very thin and got all her power from a very stiff Babolat frame. She did very little strength training and wanted to play tennis, tennis, tennis.

    Then when we saw her in Orlando on several occasions over the past 2 years, totally different. She had to lay off any hitting and instead she did all fitness and strength training. She now is a lot stronger.

    She always had focus, always had great tactics, a very good tennis brain. She is extremely intelligent.

    In a way her injury might have helped long term. She has the same tennis brain she always did but with strength to go with it.

  • Michael In the UK · January 23, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    Hello friends, it has been a while since I posted.

    I just watched the final set of Ymer v Kachanov.
    Ymer lost in a close fifth set tie break. But what shots and what stamina from this 21 year old. I was very impressed.
    Views and thoughts from others very welcome.

  • Hartt · January 23, 2020 at 3:40 pm

    Michael, I am a big Khachanov fan, so I was on pins and needles during that match TB. But I agree that Ymer the Younger played very well, and has been doing well for a while now. He is at No.73 in the live rankings, and I think he will continue to climb the rankings in the coming season. He is a lot of fun to watch.

  • Michael In the UK · January 23, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Hi Hartt,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply. I am a big fan of Karen Kachanov too, especially that fabulous sledgehammer forehand!

  • Hartt · January 23, 2020 at 6:37 pm

    I got to see Karen a couple years ago at the Rogers Cup. He wasn’t well-known at the beginning of the tourney, so was on a small outer court and we fans were practically on top of the players. You could almost feel the power of that FH! You could certainly hear it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 23, 2020 at 6:37 pm

    Michael, I like Ymer, he is a small guy but he really can wallop the ball. He whooped Tiafoe this year, I saw him destroy Harrison in Miami Open qualies last year 61 61, just a blowout. Losing in 76 in the fifth to KK is a statement making loss.

  • Andrew Miller · January 23, 2020 at 7:30 pm

    Like M. Ymer. Hope he does get to work with Edberg, he hoped to.

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