I Don’t See Greatness In Gauff

Coco Gauff has just won a rather pedestrian (as far as quality of play) second set tie-breaker against Polona Hercog to force a third set in this third round matchup. As a 15-year-old, Gauff will be the youngest player since Jennifer Capriati back in 1991 to reach the Wimbledon Round of 16. But watching Gauff play, I don’t think she’s in the same league as Capriati was as a young phenom.

Mary Joe Fernandez and Chris Evert are fulminating over “what a fighter” Gauff is. But just watching her play–I know the X factor is the high pressure she’s playing under on Centre Court–I’m seriously not that impressed. I think my son who’s two years and two months younger than Gauff would give her a run for her money (in two year when he’s 15, if he’d play the 15-year-old Gauff, I don’t think it’d be much of a match, but I’m sure Gauff’s parents would have a different opinion).

Gauff doesn’t have a weapon as far as I can see. She doesn’t the groundstrokes of Capriati. She moves well, but she’s allergic to the net, retreating to the baseline on grass when she’s pulled up to the service line. She throws in slices off both sides, but they’re not good slices; they float for the most part. Her serve is her best shot, but it’s not a Serena serve, at least yet. Her forehand backswing verges on the Gulbis.

I see a very fine player, especially for a 15-year-old, but greatness, no, I’m not seeing it. I like her serve, her movement and her competitiveness, but will they add up to greatness? I think she still has a lot of work to do. She has shown more ability to finish at the net in the third set, but her opponent is playing poorly.

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  • Jeff · July 7, 2019 at 12:29 am

    Hmm, looks like I am incorrect, that Wilander now loves Gauff. Sounds like he has changed his tune.


  • catherine · July 7, 2019 at 2:13 am

    I agree with the naysayers, few that there are. Now we have Serena saying she’ll win a GS right now. I’ll get kicked for this – but I see no character in her game. Yes, it’s ‘put together’. And this vaunted serve netted 3 aces over 3 sets. And everyone’s forgotten about Bianca, who, if she comes back healthy, offers a lot more to the spectator than Corri.

    The Gauff mania is just OTT. Honestly, I want someone to beat her just to show women’s tennis isn’t totally on its uppers. Actually, this has been a pretty dull Wimbledon so far and I suppose Gauff is just the biggest story. The defending champion exited almost unnoticed and there’ve been no riveting matches. The men’s side doesn’t seem much better – it was all Kyrgios until he went out and what’s happened to the NextGen ? Sascha better dump Lendl. Perhaps he can pick up Schuettler when Angie shows him the door. Because I hear Zverev’s sponsorship with Mille is in trouble so he’ll be counting the pennies now.

    Is Wilander saying Gauff will reach the top in 5 years time ? She’ll be 20 then so that’s not remarkable. Remember who won the Grand Slam at 18?

  • Dan Markowitz · July 7, 2019 at 5:33 am

    Kiss of death when Mats thinks you’re a “Can’t miss” Top Fiver. He’s right though; her movement is top rate.

  • Hartt · July 7, 2019 at 7:55 am

    I agree that the hype about Coco Gauff is over the top right now. But I was impressed with how she fought back from facing 2 MPs to winning the match yesterday. She is an excellent competitor, and that is key to being a top player.

    Catherine, as you know, I am a big Andreescu fan. Her variety and fighting spirit make her a lot of fun to watch. But this shoulder injury is very concerning. Apparently she has consulted with the doctor who operated on Sharapova’s shoulder. I am wondering whether to get one of those expensive Rogers Cup tickets for the Tuesday evening, when Bianca is scheduled to play, because I can’t be certain that she will play. However, I did win tickets for Monday evening, and they should be for good seats. 🙂

  • Harold · July 7, 2019 at 8:02 am

    She’s 15 and you demand she has a well rounded game? Venus is 39, did she ever really round out her game? Serena, just bludgeoned, and intimidated, never fully developed an all court game. Kerber, won multiple Majors, only thing she does besides play defense, is hit balls from her knees. The Giant Czech, and Russian Ova’s, never round out their games. Only two interesting Womens styles are Barty, and Strycova.. Everyone has the same baseline, flat strokes…Halep is the female version of David Ferrer, except, she finally won one.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 7, 2019 at 8:29 am

    “So thoroughly groomed that they snuffed a lot of the Vamos out of her.” What in the world is that supposed to mean?I can’t begin to figure this one sentence out. It does not apply at all to Gauff, who is so mature and focused and intense she doesn’t need to look at her box, and she does unleash super intense COME ONs after big points. I see her competitive spirit as perfect absolutely perfect and well beyond her years.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 7, 2019 at 8:34 am

    Harold it is bizarre why the critics and are putting such major demands on Gauff’s game at 15 when she is undefeated so far at Wimbledon. She is a delightful spirit, an amazing player, and quite possibly an all time legend making her historic breakout declaration of greatness.

  • catherine · July 7, 2019 at 9:14 am

    My bother with Gauff is her age. Maybe I’m looking at her from that point of view rather than her game, although she doesn’t seem too different from the run of women players. I’m not the only person to think that. As for well-rounded I’m not sure what it means. Steffi Graf never had a ‘well=rounded’ game if you examined it carefully but she did have a match-winning shot, her forehand, and was possibly the best mover on court I’ve ever seen. Gauff doesn’t have an outstanding shot, from the matches I’ve seen, and I’d like her better if she did.

    Here’s a quote from Chris Evert: ‘ I was 15 when it all started, the fanfare. Sometimes your priorities get a little mixed up.’ And Chris grew up in the pre-internet days. Corri will have to learn to deal with social media. There’s already a Youtube clip of her gloating over celebrity tweets.

  • catherine · July 7, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Hartt – It’s bad news about Bianca. I wonder if it is the same injury Sharapova had ? Maria was never the same after the surgery as we know. It’ll be an absolute tragedy (in sporting terms) if Bianca is lost to the game.

    As for the tickets, it depends how far in advance you have to buy them. You may hear on the grapevine in Canada if she’s not playing. My hunch is that she won’t play but that’s all it is, a hunch. My hope is that things aren’t as serious as they sound.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 7, 2019 at 9:42 am

    Catherine, Gauff uses the right shot at the right times, that’s who you win matches. She has shown she can hit winners off both wings and her serve was better than Venus. She can volley. She can do it all. Most of all she’s undefeated at Wimbledon and she deserves all the accolades she is getting from celebrities. A superstar was born this week in Wimbledon.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 7, 2019 at 9:43 am

    Hartt, did you see the Gabi Dabrowski Behind The Racquet yesteray, which was a harsh criticism of Tennis Canada and their perceived mishandling of her development.

  • Harold · July 7, 2019 at 9:57 am

    On the conflict of interest front: TC is showing a replay of Gauff/VW. Does MJ Fernandez, tell the world, her hubby is Gauff’s manager, so aim not going to say anything bad about her, even if she misses 10 serves in a row?

    Commies are so intertwined in the game. From coaching other players in the draw, campaigning to coach the next superstar. Management, same sponsors as the players.

    Nadal gave the best interview to the ESPN booth yesterday. They had to ask him about Gauff. Gave a great answer, and she’s not even a co-Nike player

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 7, 2019 at 10:17 am

    Conflict of interest? How about Gimelstob earning about a million a year from ATP for producing the ATP TV show once a week, when another production company can do the same show for half. I will post a story on this in the coming days. And Gimelstob is seen as a savior by the players getting them more money? That ATP money could easily be diverted to the lower ranked players.

  • Hartt · July 7, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Scoop, I was aware that Gaby Dabrowski was unhappy with her experiences with Tennis Canada, but this is the first time I’ve seen the details. We are just getting her point of view, so I feel a bit cautious about accepting everything at face value.

    One thing is accurate – for a long time Tennis Canada insisted on having complete control of any junior in their national program, without other coaches being involved. The top players in their program also had to train at the National Centre in Montreal. For that reason both Pospisil and Shapovalov chose not to join the program when invited.

    Over time they have loosened up somewhat, and more players can train closer to home. In fact, they discovered that the girls did not fare well when they were far from home, and now the Montreal centre just has boys. They also assisted Shapo in making the transition from juniors to the pro tour.

    If a junior player like Fernandez chooses to continue with her father as her coach, Tennis Canada will assist with funds for travel, etc., without her being part of their program.

    I can understand why Tennis Canada wants to have a major say in the training of players they support financially, the $ commitment per player is huge. But at the same time they need to have some flexibility because players can have very different situations.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 7, 2019 at 10:59 am

    Agree, each player has to be treated individually, each person is unique. Tennis factories are suspect, as we see with so many Americans with the same basic formula game.

  • catherine · July 7, 2019 at 12:45 pm

    Lucie Safarova is pregnant, according to IG of boyfriend Plekanec. Hartt will probably know about that since I thnk he played hockey in Montreal. No marriage plans. Plekanec has been married before ?

  • Hartt · July 7, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    I heard on another site that Lucie was pregnant. I’m afraid I am a poor Canadian when it comes to hockey, and know virtually nothing about it. So am not familiar with her boyfriend.

  • Jon KIng · August 1, 2019 at 3:47 am

    Hopefully the hype stops now. Once the scouting report was out, Gauff is getting beaten up on. Hit deep to her forehand and it falls apart, 2nd serve is mediocre. The problem is she does not have any crazy weapons or physical advantage vs the top players. She is decently fast but not super fast, decent power but not super powerful. There is so much parody in women’s tennis these days that she could lose in 1st rounds or get to semi finals. She looks like a steady top 25-30 player. But superstar? No, she has no weapons that jump out at you.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 1, 2019 at 5:35 am

    Jon, Coco is 15, far from a finished product. She is just now getting used to professional tennis life and business and media, far different than junior.

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