Oct/19

13

Coco Conquers Linz, Wins First WTA title

Mature beyond her fifteen years with a game that can outsmart and outplay veteran WTA players and champions, Coco Gauff introduced herself as the newest WTA force as she defeated former Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko in three sets today.

Just fifteen and in her first year as a pro, Gauff has now added her second WTA title, she won Washington DC Citi Open doubles with Caty Mcnally in August, a feat that considerably upstages the legendary player she is most compared to, Serena Williams, who won her first WTA title at seventeen in Paris.

Though she endured some bad results earlier this year – like a 61 61 pounding from Quin Gleason, the former Notre Dame player, in Bonita Springs, Gauff is on a headline making roll now, since her fourth round run at Wimbledon this summer, where she beat Venus Williams in straight sets.

Gauff also won rounds at the US Open before losing a tight duel to two time major champ Naomi Osaka.

Already Gauff has proved she can win most of her WTA matches, able to figure out and solve the games of successful pros with far more experience.

Gauff has the ability to quickly erase stinging losses like the one to Gleason and the one this week in qualies to Tamara Korpatsch, and then shift gears and produce her best tennis.

Just how good Gauff has the potential to become is a question that will intrigue the sport for many years to come.

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222 comments

  • catherine · October 15, 2019 at 10:38 am

    As to what happened to Marta Kostyuk – she’s ranked 162 and was beaten in Luxembourg by Laura Siegemund.

    And Iga Swiatek ? I was impressed by her for a few minutes.

  • catherine · October 15, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    Another endorsement package – Ashleigh Barty is teamed with Vegemite – a true Aussie pairing 🙂

    ( Hands up those who know what Vegemite is )

  • Hartt · October 15, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    I saw the announcement about Ash and Vegemite. I have a vague idea of what it is and wonder if there will be much interest outside of Australia. But Ash is a true Aussie!

  • catherine · October 15, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    Australians outside Oz can buy it online, probably. Or in specialist shops. The equivalent here is Marmite but doesn’t taste the same. Ash’s endorsement is only for the domestic market I would think. Bit like if Bianca did maple syrup.

  • Hartt · October 15, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    Catherine, I think maple syrup is also popular in the US. I can’t think of a Canadian product that is eaten only here, although tourtiere, a pie made with ground pork, ground beef and a variety of spices, may be one. It started as a special dish in Quebec for Christmas eve, but has become more common.

  • catherine · October 15, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    Sounds delicious 🙂

  • Andrew Miller · October 15, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    Why play now? None are in contention for year end championship. They play now, they risk injury etc. Plus they “may” vacuum up some prime exhibition money, or sponsor money, or whatever. Primarily, not to injure themselves before Australia. Only ten weeks away until Australia anyways so might as well take time off now.

  • Andrew Miller · October 15, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    So many tournaments still. Too many. Players want more opportunities and a shorter season. Something’s gotta give.

    Nothing notable outside of bizarre scorelines, such as Giorgi winning a first set at love and losing the next two. As if players learned let’s make Giorgi think she’s got it in the back and once she plays her best tennis, then turn the tables.

    Puig an absolute demolishing of Ferro, who played pretty well in the US Open.

    Otherwise lots of names I haven’t seen. I’ll try to catch some highlights. If you’re losing sets at love…some players must be hey my hotel is paid I made round two direct deposit life is good!!!

  • Andrew Miller · October 16, 2019 at 12:47 am

    Luxembourg: small court!!! At least they fill the stadium, which is tiny.
    – Giorgi vs Petkovic. No idea how Petkovic pulled this off. Giorgi was hitting winners left and right. So fast off the draw. But: Giorgi is predictable. She’s just as likely to hit it right back to you as past you, and Petkovic figured that out. Giorgi also gave zero emotion to the crowd, whereas Petkovic fired herself up after losing first set 6-0. It may be Giorgi won’t have a career to match her groundstroke glory because she gives no c’mon or anything to anyone.

    Sad too. I saw a pretty happy Giorgi in person, so obviously capable of some emotion to give the crowd something to cheer for. Instead silent fist pumps.

    Kremlin Cup:
    Nice stadium and good crowd.
    – Kuznetsova vs Muchova. Always considered Kuznetsova a player with variety and many ways to win, who like Pavlychenkova can do a lot with the ball. But…it was as if Muchova xeroxed the Kuznetsova game. Everything Kuznetsova did Muchova did better. I am surprised Muchova played so well and had this thorough a game. It’s hard to make Kuznetsova look like she’s a step behind the times and Muchova was like Kuznetsova 2.0, the upgrade.

    Pavlychenkova count me impressed. Nice game. First time watching Sakkari highlights. Pavs was better. She is similar to Agassi, Djokovic in the length of her shots and what she can do with the ball. I’ll have to see more Sakkari, feel like the Sakkari game is underdeveloped.

  • catherine · October 16, 2019 at 1:10 am

    Petko’s got her second wind – it’s like she saying to Angie, ‘look, you can do it.’ Julia G is playing – in Moscow where she won her first tournament in 7 years in 2017. So sentiment there.

    Luxembourg’s a nice event – always gets a good draw. I’ll expect to see Gauff in the sfs.

  • catherine · October 16, 2019 at 1:29 am

    The Giorgi/Petko highlights were hilarious – you’d think Camilla won the match. And the handshake was up there with the finest.

    Has anyone ever seen Giorgi crack a smile ? Andrew’s right – her game is a one-note samba.

  • catherine · October 16, 2019 at 6:06 am

  • Hartt · October 16, 2019 at 7:36 am

    This was indeed a nightmare season for Dasha, and we can understand why she is glad it’s over. Hopefully she can make a fresh start next season. She is too talented to have these kind of results. Besides, she is a treats-eligible player!

  • Jon King · October 16, 2019 at 8:26 am

    Ha Catherine, I don’t recall ever seeing Giorgi smile! I heard her mother is a dress designer and makes her new dresses for each event, she always looks great, but it would be nice to see a smile now and then.

    Andrew, good analysis. Her ground strokes can be absolutely awe inspiring. Just pure weapons at times from anywhere on the court.

    Like you said, Giorgi is very predictable. That stuff starts in juniors. Most girls learn to either A. hit only to the backhand or B. hit corner to corner. The other girls recognize the patterns.

    I have seen junior matches where girls will literally just put their heads down and sprint corner to corner, retrieve balls corner to corner without even glancing at their opponent. They know exactly where the next ball is going! The offensive players have chance after chance to hit behind the other player or just drop shot, but they dutifully hit corner to corner over and over again like robots.

  • Andrew Miller · October 16, 2019 at 9:14 am

    Jon King, you described it best with Giorgi! Whether on TV/video or in person, Giorgi hits such an impressive ball. I’m not sure whether anyone has a faster take-back on the racquet or timing – did Henin have this?

    Every shot is boom, boom, boom. The pace she generates with that slight frame, I guess shows that perfect mechanics pays off! She’s great to watch in practice. It’s impressive to see I think a relatively small player hit one of the biggest balls on the women’s tour.

    But as you said, the Giorgi game is mindless. I don’t think she thinks at all about it – at some level I’m certain she knows all her combinations but I don’t think she applies any strategy, not even hit the ball where the opponent isn’t (basic strategy). Or even “hit harder to same stroke your opponent hit”, or, “just hit to her backhand the whole match”.

  • Andrew Miller · October 16, 2019 at 9:23 am

    I saw Giorgi crack a smile! But it was off the practice courts. Someone in the crowd said something in Italian and she laughed. It was memorable. Almost think if she showed something out there she’d give her fans reason to cheer for her. No reason to cede the crowd to Petkovic, who has learned that the crowd matters and if you can fire yourself up even a polite Luxembourg crowd will pick a side, especially if your opponent is silent and in a zone where it’s not even clear they know there is a crowd there.

    Yes the Giorgi handshake is among worst on tour. No conversation no good job no nothing. Hard to tell if she enjoys the sport anymore. She’s still got the game, just enigmatic as a competitor.

    A person that’s clearly not a cold and emotionless robot. Yet before, during, and after a match, yeah, that’s Giorgi.

  • Jon King · October 16, 2019 at 9:25 am

    Andrew, Its funny the Giorgi stuff came up because she was a player that attracted my daughter’s attention years ago. Always looked cool, hit hard. We modeled her ground strokes after Giorgi and my girl has a reputation for having the hardest groundies pound for pound most observers have seen.

    But the flip side is that she had to learn another lesson from Giorgi. My daughter played a super tall girl who just sprinted corner to corner with her head down. Got to every ball until my kid blasted one out of bounds. On the ride home she was crying about how a player with no weapons beat her. Once she calmed, I asked her to replay the rallies in her mind and think about how the girl got to every ball. It was like a light bulb went off.

    So she went to work on hitting behind players and using drop shots and being unpredictable. In our case Giorgi has shown her some things to do and some things not to do!

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 16, 2019 at 9:27 am

    You never saw Borg smile on court either, or Evert, Navratilova, McEnroe, Nadal, Federer, Rios, Capriati, Seles, Sampras, Agassi, Courier, which players have you seen smile in the heat of battle? Giorgi does strike me as a total business player, not so much about aspiring to win big tournaments or to prove she’s the best, but to make money and operate her successful career for as long as she can. Giorgi has the demeanor of a business woman dressed in a suit.

  • Jon King · October 16, 2019 at 10:22 am

    Blinkova must have read the scouting report, she hit everything to Gauff’s forehand. Interesting how the announcers talked non stop about how tired Gauff was. Her best win came over Bertens who was exhausted when they played and still the match was as close as it gets. Can’t have it both ways, Gauff is great when she beats a tired player but tired when she loses.

  • Andrew Miller · October 16, 2019 at 10:34 am

    Jon King, that’s great. It’s good to hear your daughter thinking through the match. That’s a nice capability to hit big off both wings as well as to wait to see where the opponent moves before committing to the intended shot. She must enjoy it too to drive opponents up the wall!!!

    I am still surprised when I see it, such as Serena Williams in her last two sets vs Bouzkova. Bouzkova had that match in the bag, playing off some combination of adrenaline and confidence. But the last two sets Serena began to twist the girl’s ankles and play in a way that tied her up in a pretzel. Example, hitting flat but a little short so Bouzkova moves up but then hitting behind her (nice stuff), waiting for Bouzkova to move then committing to a shot that went the opposite of where Bouzkova thought. It was nice.

    There’s no substitute for strategy in tennis, making observations then adjusting the game so that the opponent is stuck in how they thought things would go. Better, best players make observations and make adjustments (Nadal moving a step or two back on serve to handle bigger serves at Wimbledon – seems minor but if your game relies on return of serve and the opponent’s game revolves around serve, this adjustment pays off).

  • Andrew Miller · October 16, 2019 at 10:38 am

    Tired eh. Hey welcome to the tour!

  • Jon King · October 16, 2019 at 10:41 am

    Andrew, I am a huge NBA fan and used to sit courtside watching Allen Iverson when he was a young player. So ankle breaking is my thing. I showed my daughter some old AI videos and she gets it how to apply it to tennis and wrong foot a player and get them leaning. It is a great skill to have!

  • catherine · October 16, 2019 at 11:02 am

    Jon – you are so right. That 6-0 was a whalloping. There’s a downside to being 15. You get mentally tired, lack experience and run up against someone who’s using their head. Coco should take this loss in her stride and maybe plan her schedule more carefully, or have her coach (whoever that is) plan it. Luxembourg was always going to be tougher than Linz.

    I’ll bet the other players have well thumbed copies of Coco’s scouting reports.

  • Jon King · October 16, 2019 at 11:05 am

    Yeah, the announcers must have said 30 times about how Co Co was tired. But Blinkova has gone through quite a few qualifiers and played lots of matches this year too.

    Blinkova was just the better player, tactical serving, hit lasers to her spots, is very good at wrong footing players, obviously pays attention to scouting reports.

    Gauff also showed some quit today when things went against her. That is a very bad sign at age 12 or age 35 for an athlete with high goals. Bertens was exhausted when they played but fought to keep the match very close.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 16, 2019 at 11:38 am

    Already the media are making excuses for Gauff losses. Predictably obvious. Serena didn’t get that privilege until the later stages of her career if I remember correctly. Gauff has been chosen to be a manufactured protected champion with special privileges at the age of 15. Hope this does not turn out worse than the Capriati saga.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 16, 2019 at 11:40 am

    Bouzkova trained in her early teen years under Attila Savolt in private lessons. Attila Savolt of Hungary was a top 60 player, and shared one of the better entries for my Facing Federer book.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 16, 2019 at 11:42 am

    Allan Iverson was a thrill to watch, can only imagine how his speed and athletic ability and quickness would have applied to tennis had be started tennis at age 8. Of all pro athletes from other sports I feel Iverson would have been the best tennis player, a Hewitt, Nadal, Blake, Chang, Sampras all wrapped up in one.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 16, 2019 at 11:47 am

    You have to expect the mental letdown by Gauff after her dream come true week in Linz. Only natural to lose a fraction of drive and hunger at 15. That’s all it takes. Agassi showed quit, so did Djokovic in their younger years. The worrisome part is Gauff could be getting a sense of entitlement, that she belongs in the elite echelon already. Now expectations are so very high for her. She is expected to keep winning like this. And now she has an X on her back. Veterans love to put beatdowns on high profile whippersnappers, remember Seles vs Viele?

  • Andrew Miller · October 16, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Winning cures losing, McNally and Gauff are still in the dubs and had a nice epic win. I like this young and spirited team.

    McNally gets Ostapenko. Maybe she can pull the upset here. If so that would crater Ostapenko confidence, it would go to zero to lose to two U.S. teenagers in the last four days. She’d need to rave or something!!!

  • Andrew Miller · October 16, 2019 at 11:56 am

    Coric showed quit 🙂 he’s still good.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 16, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    Mannarino now 7-0 vs Kukushkin. Nishioka beats Fritz again, second time this year. Tiafoe wins a match.

  • Andrew Miller · October 16, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    Gauff will grow up hopefully in public eye, it would mean she’s staying on tour through ups, downs. Saw some stuff last week, and would have to walk in the kid’s shoes.

    Losing is part of the sport. Players need short memories.

    I picked up a few things that I think the Gauffs may want to do in the future. I’ll put this out there that they’ll all need to learn how to handle things so that Gauff can focus on tennis. We’ve talked about it before, players engage the media and everyone is roses until it isn’t, and that’s as much the agent and family and player as it is the media and fan requirement for info and gossip and blah.

    I’d especially be careful with Twitter and Insta…

  • Andrew Miller · October 16, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Scoop, funny stuff re Tiafoe, Fritz. Pretty much. This is when U.S. players in past have made hay, like Sock, Blake grabbing indoors titles post season. Fritz is on a losing streak, early first round losses.

    For what it’s worth I can hardly recognoze tens of dozens of players across the draws. Had thought with US Open I had gotten more up to speed. Nope.

  • Andrew Miller · October 16, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Allen Iverson! Maybe one of most talented players ever to touch a basketball. Brilliant and crazy. Scintillating.

    Yes over years have seen the clip of Iverson messing with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen at same time, they had no read on anything he was about to do. One of more spectacular highlights in basketball history, maybe? Not quite the Starks “dunk” but still, unbelievable.

    There are players like that. Players right now on WTA tour if they had some emotion, better strategy, they’d have Masters titles and maybe a slam by their name.

    One of reasons that tennis is great. Talent is like dirt. Can’t just hit the prettiest ball. It’s almost a distraction to hit the prettiest ball.

  • Andrew Miller · October 16, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    DKat will like Spain. Kuznetsova played some of her best tennis when training there. This kind of move I fully endorse

    Hope Jon King, DanM and their young inspiring and enthusiastic charges get over to Spain and French to play a summer there. Hope you get some frequent flyer miles. Also that you hit up the SoCal tour and get some matches there.

    Only problem is that you may want to stay and coming back may be tough!!!

    Nothing like playing others on their own home turf. The game will be the same but you’ll have a whole environment and tennis culture and friends for life. And good food. Spanish food is good.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 16, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    Sock is in Vegas Challenger, Kozlov got a WC and beat Evan Song. Kozlov has been working with Agassi and Gil Reyes and shooting hoops with Jaden Agassi.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 16, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Iverson was a Rios, Monfils, Dimitrov, Hewitt on a basketball court.

  • catherine · October 16, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    PS to the Kerber mention – she has withdrawn from Zhuhai so that’s the end of her season, same with Konta although Johanna did announce that some time ago. I imagine both would rather stay home now than make the long trip to China for nothing much.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 16, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    Kozlov beat Evan Song and Blaz Rola in Vegas this week, he’s into QFs if he beats the winner of Tabilo vs Ritschard. Ritschard is the guy he blew 5 MPs earlier this year in the Futures final. He had lost to Rola twice in 2017, in Panama City and Sarasota. Kozlov needed these wins as he’s ranked 550 now. Sebi Korda lost another three setter to Escobar after winning first set.

  • catherine · October 16, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    Happy 22nd birthday to Naomi Osaka. I must say I’m looking forward to the court action in Shenzhen. Nice to see the best players in action again.

  • catherine · October 16, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    2020 WTA tournament calendar introduces a new hard court event in Adelaide, replacing Sydney, and a new tournament in Gemany replacing Istanbul – this latter a good move considering the total failure of the Istanbul event last year – no crowds, bad location, grim atmosphere.

    Adelaide hosted a grass event in the days when the State tournaments provided a run-up circuit to the AO. Hobart used to boast the best grass courts outside Wimbledon.

    Alas no Hopman Cup.

  • Andrew Miller · October 16, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    Blaz Rola…hope he’s doing well. He’s a player anyone in challengers must beat to get to the tour. He’s good too!

  • Hartt · October 16, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    Kasatkina said she was looking forward to going to Barcelona. Maybe she has heard about the good food!

  • Andrew Miller · October 16, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    Not going to comment on Doi coach. Not going to. Total trap. If that’s what’s passing for heat of the battle coaching these days then no surprise players fire coaches and don’t think twice.

  • catherine · October 16, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    What happened ? I only saw the highlights. I actually had Julia playing in Moscow when she’s in Luxembourg – not that anyone noticed. She certainly gave her forehand a good workout. Strange to see Julia without her usual Gang of Two in the coaching box.

  • catherine · October 16, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    Julia played that match at a ferocious pace and served 21 aces. Is she trying to prove something ? She first played in L’bourg when she was 15.

  • Andrew Miller · October 16, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    More stupid on court coaching. Worthless and this time ridiculous.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 16, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    Sock loses again in Vegas Challenger, loses first set to a total no name I never heard of, then retired. Another devastating shocking loss by the former top ten star.

  • Hartt · October 16, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    Speaking of the Las Vegas Challenger, 2 Canucks, Pospisil and Polansky, are now playing. Vasek won the first set 6-1. I suppose I should do my patriotic duty and see if I can find their match.

  • Hartt · October 16, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    It looks like there are about 5 people watching the Pospisil vs Polansky match, although there are about 460 watching the stream. Vasek is up a break in the 2nd set.

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