US Open Women’s Title A Wide Open Race

Teenage sensation Coco Gauff will aim to take the US Open by storm after receiving a coveted wildcard for the womenโ€™s singles tournament this month. The 15-year-old captured the imagination of tennis fans around the world with her run to the fourth round of Wimbledon in June. She became the youngest player to qualify during the Open era and she quickly dispatched former WTA world number one Venus Williams to announce her vast potential. Now she aspires to defy the odds once again and she should enjoy a fantastic reception on home soil at Flushing Meadows.

If you read a BetOnline review and find the best tennis odds from a respected betting site, you will see that Serena Williams is the clear favorite to win the US Open. She has not triumphed at a major since she gave birth to her daughter in 2017, but she has been to three finals and she appears to be improving as she enjoys more time on court. Wimbledon champion Simona Halep is second in the betting, followed by French Open winner Ashleigh Barty. You will not find Gauff among the tournament favorites, but she has already shown that she can flourish on the big stage, and threaten even the WTA elites.

The Delray Beach-based Gauff defeated WTA no. 92 Aliona Bolsova and WTA 128 Greet Minnen to qualify for Wimbledon, while doing her homework and sitting for exams after the matches. That thrust her into the spotlight and she told reporters that she grew up idolizing Serena and Venus Williams and clamors to face the sisters one day. It did not take long, as she was handed a dream first round clash with Venus, although she was given little chance of toppling the former Wimbledon champion. Yet Gauff delivered a sensational performance to win 6-4 6-4, catapulting her to overnight superstardom.

Gauff has handled the excessive media frenzy of attention with poise and grace. She seemed unfazed by the hectic experience and continued to play with veteran maturity throughout the tournament. Next up she beat former Wimbledon semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova and then she took down world number 60 Polona Hercog to march into the second week. Her tournament ended with a 3-6 3-6 defeat at the hands of Halep, but there is no shame in that, as the Romanian went on to win the tournament. Halep beat Serena in the final and dropped fewer games than she did against Gauff.

Since then, the 15-year-old has not fared quite so well. She qualified for the main draw at the Washington Open last month, but she lost in straight sets to Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas in the first round. Yet she has already shown that she can thrive under pressure in big tournaments, so nobody will take Gauff lightly at Flushing Meadows this month. She has risen from 313 to 140 in the world rankings as a result of her Wimbledon exploits, and she has the potential to go all the way to the top.

However, it is probably a bit too early to expect her to actually go on and win the famous trophy in Arthur Ashe Stadium in September. Williams has a phenomenal record at Flushing Meadows – she’s won it six times – but it is hard to look past world number four Halep after the way she surged to glory at Wimbledon. She has never been past the semi-final at the US Open, but she went to the Australian Open final last year and she is strong on hardcourt. Halep is now a two-time Grand Slam winner, so she possesses the experience and mental strength to get the job done. Yet the unpredictability of the womenโ€™s game – Halep lost in the first round in New York last year – is what makes it so exciting right now, and dozens of players have a legitimate shot at victory in two weeks, so it promises to be an exhilarating event with plenty of drama, surprise and high quality tennis.

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  • Jeff · August 18, 2019 at 10:53 pm

    I agree there is no clear favorite but I think it is Barty’s tournament to lose. She should win this one.

    I also think a dark horse like Sakkari or Kenin could pull the shocker.

    Can’t see Serena winning. Something is wrong with her and I think her best shot is Wimbledon next year. She simply doesn’t play enough and it shows.

  • catherine · August 19, 2019 at 1:20 am

    I’ve no idea who’s going to win the women’s title either but I’m going to come out and say it won’t be Gauff and it won’t be Barty, because I don’t think Ashleigh has it in her to win in New York, at least not yet. It seems opponents are getting the hang of how she plays.

    Jeff, I think it’s stretching things a bit to pick Serena for Wimbledon next year. What’s wrong with her is mainly age and that’s not something that reverses itself, unfortunately.

    Simona has a nagging Achilles problem and I’m not betting on her. Bianca ? She’s seems to have been forgotten with all this guff about Gauff but if she can stay fit I’d expect her in the later rounds.

    Keys bt Kuznetsova SS in Cincy – close match but a good win for Maddie who seems to have tightened up her game these days.

    Not my favourite GS the USO – too much frenzy and hype and potential for mayhem. But that’s the appeal I suppose.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 19, 2019 at 4:40 am

    I like Andreescu to win it.

  • catherine · August 19, 2019 at 7:16 am

    If she lucks on a draw full of people who have never played her ๐Ÿ™‚

    And so much rests on her fitness.

  • Hartt · August 19, 2019 at 7:47 am

    I don’t know about winning the USO, but I think Andreescu could go deep. I don’t think facing opponents for a second time will be a problem for her, after all she beat Kerber twice in a row. Seriously, she has so much variety and is so unpredictable on the court that I don’t think having played Bianca will be a huge advantage to her opponents.

    As for injury, hopefully her team has learned a lot about preventing injuries and dealing with them. Bianca said she’d made some changes during her time away, including with her service motion.

  • catherine · August 19, 2019 at 9:58 am

    Well – that’s Bianca out – she’s already being puffed up to win it. (ubi tennis)

  • Hartt · August 19, 2019 at 11:58 am

    Ubitennis may be excited about Bianca, but the odds makers had her at 12/1 on August 15 (when Brad Gilbert posted the Caesars odds) She was behind Serena, Simona, Naomi, and Ash.

    If Ostapenko can win a Slam I guess anything is possible! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • catherine · August 19, 2019 at 12:04 pm

    Sloane has dumped Sven Groeneveld after not such a long haul. Didn’t notice he’d made much difference to her game. Is it going become the fashion now to change coaches mid-year ? So Sloane joins Muguruza, Kerber in the WTA officially coachless queue pre USO.

  • Hartt · August 19, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    There was discussion on another site about the Sloane and Groeneveld split. People wondered if he wanted Sloane to work harder than she was willing to.

  • Hartt · August 19, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    On today’s Tennis Podcast they announced they will have an interview with Larry Stefanski (to be aired on Wed.) where he will talk about coaching Rios, among other things.

  • catherine · August 19, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    Re Sloane and Groeneveld – I think that supposition is highly likely.

    Players who start losing easily in deciding sets of matches (when they start well) are signalling that they’ve lost confidence, motivation, or just don’t care. A few names spring to mind and Sloane’s one of them. Maybe she should get married. Sort her priorities.

  • Hartt · August 19, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    The folks at Match Call Migrants have nicknamed her “Sloane Whatever.”

    It’s a shame that she seems to be another very talented player who isn’t making the most of her talent.

  • Hartt · August 19, 2019 at 3:21 pm

    After so much recent discussion about Ryan Harrison I was interested to see that Koepfer beat him in the USO qualies 6-1, 6-1.

  • Andrew Miller · August 19, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    Maybe the players here have a point – they pay the bills and if a coach isn’t working for them it’s their job to cut bait. With Harrison it was the other way around, his coach upped his rates, Harrison balked and the coach walked. Then Harrison hired him back, and has been through a coaching carousel since.

  • Andrew Miller · August 19, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    Like Osaka – I think short term, seems like her level of play dropped big time without the Sasha. But, as Scoop mentioned, Sasha’s personal life was messing with Osaka’s coaching needs, so it’s not a bad idea to part ways. It’s so highly individual. Many good coaches have things in common, but there’s no guarantee when it comes to what voices a specific player needs.

  • catherine · August 19, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    Kerber said, after parting with Fisette and hiring Schuettler, that it didn’t matter if your coach was a good coach or a poor one, what was important was your own motivation. And now Rainer exits after a few months, leaving that statement rather hanging in the air….

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 19, 2019 at 9:32 pm

    Coaching in womens tennis is the most unstable job in pro sports.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 19, 2019 at 9:34 pm

    Hartt please keep an ear on that, Stefanki could drop some major bombshells about Rios. Like Luis Lobo did. But those were off the record. I got some shocking inside information about Rios and Lobo. I mean SHOCKing stuff.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 19, 2019 at 9:35 pm

    Andrew, which coach raised his rates on Harrison?

  • Andrew Miller · August 19, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    Harrison worked with Grant Doyle, who after Harrison reached #43 upped reqs on $, then left. Harrison rehired him in 2015 as his career suffered, then began his turnaround. Then nosedive, then resurgence in mid 2016 with Peter Lucassen, then Sanguinetti, then Iron Mike Russell. His worst results have been with Russell.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 19, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    Doyle was hired by Albany tennis academy run by Hewitt in Bahamas, not sure if he’s still there. Can’t blame Russell and Sanguinetti for Harrison’s slump or downward spiral. Can’t blame marriage either. Maybe he never did quite get over the hump and prove that he’s an elite ATP player which many of us believed he was, even Wilander did. Maybe he needs Doyle back, or Agassi, or BG?

  • Andrew Miller · August 20, 2019 at 12:44 am

    Harrison may be like Kerber etc in that he needs a new voice every year or so. He’s probably a stubborn guy – for some reason bad habits creep into Harrison’s game within a year of taking care of them. I don’t think this is an isolated instance – players by nature want to do what’s familiar to them, so going against the grain leads them back to the grain without some distraction or way to trick themselves into adding new dimensions to their games.

    If we look at Nadal for example, some years his serve has been excellent, and other years it loses some mph or some of its form or angles. Even Nadal gets used to playing a certain way until he decides to focus on it for a period. Then he gets addicted to playing better than ever and that doesn’t ware off easily.

    No, I don’t blame Russell and definitely don’t blame his wife! He’s a moody guy on court. He should definitely focus on the doubles and see what he can do.

    He might want to read more. He could probably benefit from some good tennis books. It provides perspective and may help him see things a little differently. I can’t imagine losing first Rd of qualies is what he expected!

  • catherine · August 20, 2019 at 4:48 am

    I wonder if there’s a kind of freemasonry among top coaches – if they are in contact with each other and exchange information about possible moves etc. It would be interesting to know. The speed with which some coaches are picked up and swapped around suggests something like that.

  • catherine · August 20, 2019 at 5:03 am

    Andrew – I think you’re absolutely right in your first paragraph, particularly re Kerber. She starts off well with a new coach and then slowly reverts to old losing habits. I don’t know much about Harrison but the pattern certainly fits. The most durable players are able to find their way back or ‘trick’ themselves as you put it.

    There should be a lending library of coaches. You take a suitable one off the shelf, try for a while and then return and test out another one. So you’ve always got a new coach and new inspiration ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 20, 2019 at 7:06 am

    Harrison has battled and battled and been knocking on the door a couple of times to be a top 25 player but he was not able to push through. Sanguinetti just has not unlocked the Harrison potential and unlocked it. The results are not there. Wonder what Wilander would say now about Harrison?

  • Andrew Miller · August 20, 2019 at 7:31 am

    Scoop, Evert said something about Bouchard that I think says a lot for other players too. Players figure out other players. Bouchard’s match vs Andreescu wasn’t so different from Bouchard vs anyone in her dream year. If anything her serve was a little better and her volleys a little better. But many players know how to beat Bouchard, and many coaches do too now.

    Catherine’s got a good hunch that word gets out.

    Harrison was funny. In one interview maybe 2017 maybe early 2018, he said if I were giving advice on how to beat me in the past I’d put the ball in play and wait for Harrison to self destruct, which would happen.

    So his bad habits came roaring back.

    Contrast that with the top ladies or the top guys. Even their habits come back. Djokovic once had his serve go on holiday! Then he recovered it a few times over his career so that it was once again formidable – even the Djokovic second serve is very tough, designed to make players feel like they don’t have much to work with.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 20, 2019 at 7:34 am

    So Harrison revealed his kryptonite ๐Ÿ™‚ Not a wise move then by Harrison, never confess your weaknesses. Bouchard is not as tough as she used to be, or as hungry. Millions and fame and fortune have a way of softening some players – Sloane, Monfils, Dimitrov, Brendan Evans…this list could get long.

  • Hartt · August 20, 2019 at 7:47 am

    As Andrew has said, players (even successful ones) must continue to develop their games. Bouchard did not do that. her game is still basically what it was in 2014. I suspect that is why some of her coaches did not last long, that they wanted her to make some changes and she wouldn’t do it.

    The other problem for her is she has to be supremely confident to pull off her high risk style, and she is no longer confident. She has a pattern of winning the first set, playing well. But she can’t maintain that level and loses the next two sets. It must be incredibly discouraging to lose match after match. I think she is at something like 11 losses in a row. You have to give her credit for continuing to compete.

    But as long as she keeps trying to do the same thing she has little chance of winning.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 20, 2019 at 7:53 am

    Bouchard worked very hard in off season and I believe was determined to be a top player again. She had some quality wins and was looking good, like a new revitalized version of herself. But she lost some close tough matches and then she lost confidence. I recounted her matches of 2019 in an earlier post and it tells the story. Good wins then some heartbreaking losses then some more heartbreakers and she crumbled and is back to square one again. You have to wonder if she will ever get the confidence back. Unfortunately confidence is not for sale at the pro shop or

  • Hartt · August 20, 2019 at 9:07 am

    Yes, Bouchard did have a decent start to the season. She also had some bad luck in draws, for example getting Serena in R64 at the AO, and Halep in R32 in Dubai.

    But she had some spectacular losses as well, getting crushed by Bianca at Newport Beach 6-2, 6-0. And when she was in her slump she had some bad losses, such as in the first round of RG, with Tsurenko beating her 6-2, 6-2 and Ferro winning 6-2, 6-0 in Eastbourne.

  • catherine · August 20, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    Petko loses a 3 set thriller to Giorgi in NY ! Good match practice for Andrea and good news for the cutie watchers who can rush up to the Bronx – entry is free I think.

  • Andrew Miller · August 20, 2019 at 8:12 pm

    Giorgi believes she can win a big tournament. She saw Flavia do this. While Giorgi has a lot more power on her shots (one of few I’ve ever seen who plays like Agassi – someone has to learn how to play this way – first strike tennis – from a very young age!). I’ll always be a fan of her first strike tennis.

    Then there’s the near certainty that Giorgi consistency doesn’t exist. All fireworks and no strategy. That’s where the Agassi comparison fails – Agassi learned strategy.

  • Hartt · August 20, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    I don’t think Giorgi should hold her breath about winning a Slam. Because I am not a fan I wasn’t sure of her record in Slams, although I couldn’t recall hearing that she’d done anything great. So I checked, and her best USO result was 4R back in 2013.

  • Andrew Miller · August 20, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    Giorgi has a Wimbledon QF, but you’re right. She’s more the Blake of the WTA than the Agassi, and that may be generous. We’ve talked about her a lot before.

    I’ll leave it at she has seen other Italian players win slams or do well at them, so should have the belief that it’s possible. But her game is so remarkably different from theirs and far more volatile.

    I always hope players with this kind of talent can reign it in a little. Over time I see that it’s nearly impossible! The mental toughness some players demonstrate is itself a skill that’s as important as the huge topspin or a beautiful backhand. A bunch of world class winners is no match for the talent to think through a match.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 20, 2019 at 10:57 pm

    I don’t even think Giorgi wants to win a major. I was told she doesn’t even want to get her ranking too high so as not to put too much pressure on herself to have to defend those points. Yes, a respected insider actually told me this inside info.

  • Hartt · August 21, 2019 at 4:37 am

    Andrew, whenever I watch Dimitrov now I am going to think of your statement: “A bunch of world class winners is no match for the talent to think through a match.”

    That ability to “think through a match” is one of the reasons I am so big on Andreescu. One of her former coaches said she has notes on other players – notebooks of them. Before a match she and her coach talk strategy, taking into account the player she will face. We’ve seen in matches how she can use her variety to keep her opponent off balance. But what I enjoy seeing is how she can win against a wide variety of opponents, at least in part by her ability to think through a match.

  • catherine · August 21, 2019 at 8:34 am

    Hartt – yes, that’s one of the reasons, or the main reason, I think Bianca is a different kind of player. She wins quite a lot of 3 set matches, or has been doing so recently, and maybe that ability to use her mind and adapt her game has been the reason she has won, while other players stick to their ‘world class winners’ and lose.

    Bianca’s not a spectacular player who’s going to mow down the draw in lots of one-sided matches but I suspect quite a lot of players are going to go out there expecting to win and come back later wondering exactly what happened.

  • Andrew Miller · August 21, 2019 at 9:04 am

    Ha ha Hartt! I know, Dimitrov (sigh). The guy has nearly every shot ever invented. Then a box a jello in the place of Plan B and Plan C when the going gets tough and he actually has to change gears.

    Sorry to Dimitrov fans, one of best ball strikers. Not the same as adjusting on the fly…

    Andreescu, that journal will help her. That’s what Serena Williams did and has done over time, in addition to training pretty darn hard for decades. She has shown she has “far more than a junior game”

    I think Catherine’s said this before. Many players go with a junior game on the pro tour. It’s comfortable, it works, and it brings success. Then they don’t adapt and get confused and fire coaches, all of whom either tell them to change it up and get fired, or who tell them nothing’s wrong and stay on longer with a steady paycheck.

  • catherine · August 21, 2019 at 10:14 am

    Andrew – I don’t remember saying that but I’d certainly agree with it. Especially true for British players (girls mainly).

  • Andrew Miller · August 21, 2019 at 10:33 am

    Catherine, how did Konta escape this? Because she’s originally from Australia? She has the most fire of any British female player I’ve seen in decades! Maybe the Hungarian roots like Seles (not to typecast players or nationalities – I’ve noticed Czech Republic, Russia, France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy to some extent have actual “systems” with good pro tennis results; the U.S. has good female pros somehow, possibly because of the competition and because women believe they can turn pro here in the states).

    The UK has failed women’s players for decades!!!

  • Andrew Miller · August 21, 2019 at 10:36 am

    Catherine, I think you said something to that effect and more eloquently – that players bring their junior games to the pros and things may go well, then when it becomes obvious to observers that the player must adapt to opponents that now know their games, they go through some sort of ritual of denial, then openness to changing, then blaming everyone as their results slide (from both changing their game and not trusting the changes), then surround themselves with figured that reinforce their old unhelpful patterns (such as parents, who show them from criticism while motivating even less effort from their kids).

  • Hartt · August 21, 2019 at 11:36 am

    Bianca isn’t the only one who has notebooks on tennis. I now have several, especially on Canadian players.

    Andrew, I’ve added your statements about mental toughness and thinking through a match to my notes, so I won’t forget them. I have thought that for a long time, but you expressed it so eloquently.

  • Andrew Miller · August 21, 2019 at 11:58 am

    Hartt, I think I borrowed this from another tennis writer describing the Nadal vs Kyrgios Wimbledon match, I have to remember who this is! Kyrgios put it we’ll also:

    “He plays every point, he doesn’t take one point off. (…) His ability to bring it every day and compete, it’s special”

    Yes it is! It’s what separates Nadal from everyone other than Djokovic and blood brother Federer.

  • catherine · August 21, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    Andrew – yes, whether I actually put it that way or not I certainly think that pattern is how it works out, maybe for the majority of young players. Many are called but few are chosen – everyone can’t reach the top and it takes perseverance plus talent and no one really knows where the talent comes from. Scoop told the story, from a German source, of how Kerber was thinking of giving up when she had been a pro for a while, she wasn’t getting anywhere, and how Andrea Petkovic talked her out of it so she carried on and gradually improved her game. Maybe she’s reached that stage for the second time now and needs similar encouragement – change her game the way Fed/Nadal did and exit on a high note.

    Konta – Johanna’s big advantage is, as you suggest, her mixed heritage. She wasn’t developed in Britain. I don’t blame the LTA for everything. British girls don’t seem that interested in tennis, or aren’t really ambitious. Virginia Wade, UK’s last W’don winner, spent her childhood and learned her tennis in South Africa.

    I’m a believer in serendipity – create a good system and talent will show itself. You can’t force it.

  • Hartt · August 21, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    I just listened to David Law’s interview with Larry Stefanki on the Tennis Podcast, all one hour and 22 minutes of it!

    Here is the link.

    He had a lot to say about the players he coached, including McEnroe, Rios, Kafelnikov, Henman and Roddick.

    Asked if there was anyone he’d be interested in coaching now, he said it could be a WTA player. For him to coach a player they would have to be on the same page and have the right chemistry. He went on to say how impressed he is with Kerber, saying she is a great athlete and a great competitor, without a lot of hoopla. He doesn’t understand what is happening with her now. So there is the answer to Angie’s quest for a coach – Larry Stefanki!

    I have tons of notes from the interview, so if anything stands out will give a report later.

  • catherine · August 21, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    Hartt – Interesting comments. Kerber’s coach has to be a German speaker. She’s not comfortable in English. Could be Polish, she’s fluent in that, but I don’t know of any Polish coaches.

    I’m not sure Angie understands what’s happening with her now – any future coach will have to take that on board. Never got the feeling Scheuttler was ‘on the same page’.
    Free Angie’s will to win – something’s tied it up.

  • Hartt · August 21, 2019 at 3:16 pm

    It’s interesting that such an experienced coach thinks highly of Kerber.

    He sounded serious about being more interested in coaching a WTA player. He said he is coaching a few junior girls now and he prefers them to the junior boys because they work hard and really compete.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 21, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    I will listen to this cast later. One of the common cliches you hear a lot from tennis coaches is, “It’s easier for a girl to make it as a pro.” Stefanki may be lobbying for a job with Kerber, he may see things he can refine and he certainly has a lot of experience with top players like McEnroe, Kafel and Rios and Roddick too. She should give him a test run in NY.

  • Andrew Miller · August 21, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    Stefanki may want a job ๐Ÿ™‚ but…he is still an excellent coach. Roddick may not have developed a fantastic arsenal of tennis shots and strategies, but he developed many and he did well under Stefanki, even when Roddick played it safe. I’d argue that minus Stefanki Roddick wouldn’t have been as consistent.

    A guy I haven’t seen coaching has been Peter Lundgren. Another special coach who gets talented players to play to their capabilities and potential.

  • Andrew Miller · August 21, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    More like Stefanki wants a paying job! He takes jobs where clients have enough cash flow. Yes they are excellent. But I bet he’s an expensive coach, and he will only sign on with players that can foot the bill and be contenders!!!

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