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Coco vs Osaka AO Analysis

The most intriguing match at the Australian Open third round will be Naomi Osaka vs Coco Gauff showdown rematch.

The two Florida-based prodigies have played once before – at US Open last summer – with the older Osaka prevailing 63 60.

There are many interesting angles about this match up.

The two are dear friends and almost like sisters, off the court at least. Everybody remembers Osaka approaching Gauff at her chair on Ashe after their match, consoling and inviting her little sister to accompany her at the post match interview on court. Gauff surely was touched by the kind-hearted gesture by Osaka.

But business is business and there are no friends on the court.

So it will be interesting to see if Coco plays today against Osaka with the same fist pumping, in your face staredowns, CMON roaring intensity that she employed in her first two wins in Melbourne against Venus and Cirstea.

Or will Gauff subdue her emotional adrenaline and antagonistic aggressions to her big sister? And if she does, how will that impact her performance?

More likely, Gauff’s fierce competitive nature and vicious will to win will take over and she may fist pump and yell at Osaka straight to her face. If that happens, how will Osaka respond?

Coco being passive will not be enough to slay Osaka. It was not enough to slay Cirstea. Coco won the match vs Cirstea because she summoned her beast mode, emotional adrenaline power source. She will need that and even more vs Osaka, the AO defending champion.

The big question is, will Gauff show that aggressive, confrontational, antagonistic demeanor to Osaka or will she supress her greatest weapon?

And if things do get heated and Coco does go all out beast mode vs Osaka, as she did vs Cirstea, how will the quirky Japanese woman handle such a complicated situation?

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  • Jon King · January 26, 2020 at 11:17 am

    Ha Scoop, I did finally get one right! Kenin just keeps coming the entire match. Kenin’s placement is amazing, she puts the ball deep to a spot over and over again.

  • catherine · January 26, 2020 at 11:42 am

    Some tight matches next round WTA. No strong predictions from me, but the longest rivalry has to be Pavs/Kerber who have played 14 times since they first met in 2013 in Brisbane. Last meeting was 2019 in Japan where Anastasia won in SS. Angie needs to shorten rallies if she is to have a chance. Interesting to see how Sumyk/Pavs approach this. I’d go for Pavs, maybe in 3.

    Simona is below the radar here so far but I’d give her a good chance of reaching the final. Should bt Mertens.

  • Andrew Miller · January 26, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    Sandgren, another slam QF, has quietly earned third most QFs of any active US Men’s player outside of Isner and Querrey. It says something about Sandgren’s persistence, and something about the other U.S. men’s players not named Isner and Querrey. Isner and Querrey have reached their potential and have nothing to prove. But Sandgren has showed up everyone else and hopefully they wake up one day.

    Isner: Theee QF or better at slams in his career – two QF (US Open), 1 Semifinal (Wimbledon)

    Querrey: Four QF or better at slams in his career – two QF at Wimbledon and one semifinal at Wimbledon, and one QF US Open

    Sandgren: Two QF at Australian Open

    Tiafoe: One QF at Australian Open

  • Andrew Miller · January 26, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    Kenin showed grit and poise, and Gauff at the end looked very young and very upset, which she was understandably 🙂

    Anyways, agree with everything written here. Ms. Gauff could be very formidable and already is – I’m not sure many players could do what Kenin did, or have the same kind of capability to keep their head down and drive every shot. It was incredible – that was sheer discipline and composure right there, and I could tell it took a lot of Kenin as she nearly burst into tears following the win.

    I thought Kenin had it in the bag when, late in the third set, have forced Gauff to throw up a high bouncing mis-hit that Kenin could take for am overhead off the bounce, Kenin went ahead and hit her racquet on the court before taking the overhead.

    That’s something a player does I think to steel themselves to put an exclamation point on a winner. And Kenin did that. It was like a signature.

    If Gauff worked on some things in her game, gets some strategy beyond matching competitive fire, she’s going to be very tough. Those problems in her game will surface again and show up all the time, but she may not be so unlucky to have Kenin across the net.

    Hard to tell. She has a choice – she can go in the direction of more risk reward, become more of a SV with a huge backhand (her overhead was beautiful, it was like Sampras) with her game as is, but that’s going to be tough because she is very much a grinder from the baseline, chasing down whatever shots she gets to go for bigger angles (and unforced errors or winners, take your pick). She can do all of that without improving at all and do very well with that.

    Like we said: all depends. Can’t force a player to change. Gauff’s game may be ready for a bigger Wimbledon and should hold up well at the French too, but it would be in her best interest to iron out the issues. She might be able to address some of it by just working on her return a little more so that there’s not so much pressure on her service games.

    All higher level stuff. A great result to make the fourth round and she looked like she was on her way, and then Kenin took what she learned in the first set and reverse-engineered a win. That was a masterclass.

  • Andrew Miller · January 26, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    Riske, the most determined WTA player ever.

  • Andrew Miller · January 26, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    Can Pavs pull match this off? Kerber might be feeling “nostalgic”.

    I’d keep my eye on Muguruza. I don’t know if she can get by Bertens. But Muguruza has something Bertens doesn’t: she’s done this (as in, win a slam) before.

    As for someone who hasn’t “done this” before: Pliskova. I’m afraid I can still hear Andreescu’s not meant for the microphone comment: “But it’s Pliskova!”. No one should turn that into a t-shirt, but it’s almost as if Pliskova knows it 🙁

  • Andrew Miller · January 26, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    Don’t want to put too fine a point on it: articles on the Gauff/Kenin match don’t quite match up. Didn’t see much in Gauff’s response to acknowledge or be aware of some issues.

    Just makes it obvious, players have a hard time shifting gears when they have things to work on. There’s too strong an incentive to get better and what they already do.

    Joel Drucker piece was the closest to describing what went down and the meltdown of the Gauff forehand, as well as the change of pace by Kenin with the slices that robbed rallies of the pace that Gauff thrives on.

    I wonder if Kenin’s team took in any of the Siegemund match with Gauff. That would show some good prep work on their part.

  • Andrew Miller · January 26, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    From Pete Bodo, Gauff-Kenin, great stuff:

    “The emotional tab came due
    Gauff has been in the middle of another electric ride, this time at the Australian Open. Given how poised she is and the maturity of her game, it’s easy to overlook the fact that she’s still just 15, came into this match off matches against three tough opponents — including Venus Williams and defending champion Naomi Osaka — and did her best to handle all the hype surrounding her remarkable progress. By midway in the second set, she was looking gassed. It’s been an emotional week for Gauff; she just hit the wall.

    Exercises in problem-solving
    Both of these young women have versatile games, but where Gauff can back up her skills with explosive athleticism, Kenin must live by her wits. Kenin showed in this match how fluent she is with the entire tennis hymnal. The way she dialed up her game in the first set to play with a bit more risk in the second set, then scaled it back in the final set as she recognized she could tease errors out of her tiring rival was impressive. She also picked up on the way Gauff’s forehand was starting to falter and probed that side more forcefully in the late stages. Gauff ultimately made 21 unforced errors on the forehand side. Technically, that was her undoing.”


  • Scoop Malinowski · January 26, 2020 at 1:52 pm

    How about this? Kenin is just better than Gauff at this stage. Smarter, tougher, more experiences, more tenacious. I saw Kenin as the more feisty player in the match, she wanted it more. Gauff did not have the same intensity. Whether she ran out of gas from the singles and doubles is possible. Whether she ran out of gas and belief because of the way Kenin played is also possible. Kenin won so Kenin is better. Doesn’t matter what the hype says. Kenin gets no hype.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 26, 2020 at 2:06 pm

    Kenin did not roll over like it looked Osaka did. Osaka just had no fire in that match, Kenin clearly was super inspired. Kenin did not say she loves Gauff either, like Osaka did. Hard to beat a friend or someone you like, even harder to beat someone you “love.” So Kenin was a tough challenge for Gauff. All the pressure was on Kenin and she got the job done. Gauff is only 15, she is learning a lot, watch out in two or three years. Still say too many people in her box.

  • catherine · January 26, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    Agree Scoop – Kenin was the better player, let’s not make it too complicated. She approached the match like a pro with only her father for company.

    Naomi’s not tough – as she said. She’ll just have to grow a champion mentality. Stop loving everyone. Honestly, it all sounds like a girls’ school story.

    And I’m still not convinced about Fisette for her.

  • Jon King · January 26, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    I would not even try to predict Gauffs future. She obviously has great ability. But improvement is not guaranteed. Who knows if the right technical coach will get her ear. Who knows if she gets in a bubble and plays exactly the same at 25. Burnout, mental or physical can happen.

    She may be a multiple major winner or gradually fade away and be replaced by a new shiny young player. No way to tell which way this ship sails.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 26, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    Catherine, Osaka is doing fine. Bad draw for her, she may have won the tournament if she didn’t have to play Gauff IMO. Playing that kid is obviously a mental kryptonite for her. She did not want to administer another beating on Coco and losing that fraction of killer instinct is all it takes to make the difference between a W and an L.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 26, 2020 at 4:11 pm

    Jon, she is not a shoe in for all those majors or dominance. She is not big and physically imposing. She is more of an udersized scrapper like a Henin or Hewitt. It will be hard for her to dominate all those big bangers for two weeks. Will be interesting. She has to use a lot of fight and emotional energy now – would estimate about 30-40 CMON yells per match – that is tiring. She has to work so hard. Might need a better main coach with more experience working with a top 5 champion. Mouratoglou does not really know, he’s more of a poser and caddy IMO. He was good caddying for Serena after she already was a dominant champion. But not sure if Mouratoglou has what it takes to develop a top prospect into a dominant champ. He has not come close to doing it and all the players he worked with Pre-Serena did nothing.

  • jackson · January 27, 2020 at 7:23 am

    Geez, can we put Gauf and Serena to bed and talk about what’s going on currently in the AO. There have been some incredible men’s matches and all you guys can talk about is the women’s losers? No wonder this forum has only about a half a dozen contributors.

  • Hartt · January 27, 2020 at 8:08 am

    Jackson, go to the “Former NHL” thread. I would love to discuss those matches.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 27, 2020 at 8:45 am

    Jackson, anyone can discuss anything they want here tennis related. Freedom of speech. Gauff and Serena are still major figures, larger than life. Surely the discussion will move on to the winners still in contention.

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