US Junior Girls’ Trend Continues In Roland Garros Final - UBITENNIS
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US Junior Girls’ Trend Continues In Roland Garros Final

A new American star has emerge in the junior competition at the French Open.

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Cori Gauff (zimbio.com)

By Mark Winters

Though it is hard for many to remember that far back, but Kathy Horvath trimmed Kelly Henry, 6-2, 6-2, in the 1980 Junior Girls’ Roland Garros final. Now, 52 and 54 years old, (respectively), they were the first performers from the US to appear in a trophy round contest at the same time. It should be pointed out that it has never been a question of America producing talented youngsters, but more often than not, these players have evidenced skill on surfaces faster than Terre Battue. Over the years, red clay has often left them in the dust.

 

Last year, in a tingling three setter, two US players electrified Court 1 (The “Bull Ring” as the Stade Roland Garros site is known.) mixing powerful groundstrokes with a pastry chef’s cake decorating finesse. Whitney Osuigwe finally slipped past countrywoman Claire Liu, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3.

This year, on Saturday morning, June 9th, the trend continued as Cori “Coco” Gauff faced Caty McNally, in another “Bull Ring” encounter. The pairing pitted a 14-year-old from Delray Beach, Florida against a 16-year-old from Cincinnati, Ohio. The similarities were heightened by the fact that both players stand 5’10” tall.

McNally began the match at jet speed, taking the first set, 6-1. She jumped to a 3-0 lead in the second set, before Gauff found her rhythm. Once she did the match turned. The 2017 US Open Junior finalist, (the youngest ever in tournament history), became more focused and secured the set, 6-3. The third was taut; tense says it even better. One girl would edge ahead then the other would draft by in her wake.

It was almost like a NASCAR race between two highly tuned turbo engines that alternate holding the lead. Gauff eventually garnered two match points, but McNally stayed strong to eventually force a Tie-Break. But, Gauff was not going to be denied. She resolutely closed the door sacrificing merely one point, winning 7-6 (7-1).

The final match totals revealed how close it really was. Gauff collected 90 points to the 88 earned by McNally. Even their serving stats were similar, in that, McNally hit ten double faults, while the winner notched eight. Gauff converted seven of thirteen break points and her opponent claimed eight of twelve.

Following the match, Gauff disclosed, “The night before (Friday) my cousin texted me and she said, ‘No matter what happens, just stay calm and remember that you can win.’ I just kept telling myself to stay calm. I can do this. I just kept grinding every point.”

Admitting that playing the US Open Junior Girls’ final helped her, she said, “I remember being so nervous. I really couldn’t play. So, I tried not let myself get there (here), even though I was nervous. I just told myself to keep fighting.”

When losing those two match points was mentioned, during her post-match press conference, she stated, “I couldn’t really dwell on that. Because if I did, I probably would have lost the Tie-Break. I just told myself to keep going strong.”

She added, “I give it to Caty. She always fights. I knew she did it in the quarterfinals (a 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 victory over En-Sho Liang of Taipei) and again in the semifinals (a 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 decision over Iga Swiatek of Poland). I knew she did it then and she could do it again.”

While this was her first Roland Garros competitive appearance, Gauf isn’t a stranger to France. “A couple of times a year, usually for three or four weeks, I go to Patrick Mouratoglou’s Academy, and when he is there, he helps me out.”

For the US, it may be a trend in the making. Adding the 2015 Roland Garros Junior Boys’ final to the country’s count, an encounter in which Tommy Paul downed Taylor Fritz, 7-6, 2-6, 6-2, the US has had up and coming players make the title round three consecutive years…which is not at all bad for a country that is ordinarily not stalwart on Terre Battue

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Why Newly Married Elina Svitolina Has No Plans To Change Her Surname

The Ukrainian explains why she isn’t using her husband’s surname of Monfils just yet as she books her place in the third round at Tokyo 2020.

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Just over a week ago Elina Svitolina tied the knot with her long-time partner Gael Monfils at a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Shortly after the world No.6 took to social media and changed her name on Twitter to Elina Monfils as part of the tradition that the woman takes on the man’s name once they are married. As a consequence, various websites started to identify the Ukrainian under that name. Although she would rather that they don’t do such a thing.

“I don’t know why they changed my surname. Maybe they saw that I had changed it on my social networks,” Svitolina told BTU.
“I’m going to play as Svitolina till the very end of my professional career and will change it only after retirement.”

Svitolina explains she believes it is better if all of her achievements are made under the same name instead of two. So far in her career she has won 15 WTA titles, reached two Grand Slam semi-finals and has earned more than $20.5M in prize money.

I had numerous achievements and people know me as Svitolina. My father would be upset if I changed the surname and played as Monfils,” she joked.
“I am proud to be Svitolina and my tennis career will always be connected with this surname.”

Over the coming week the 26-year-old is hoping to add an Olympic medal to her resume. On Monday Svitolina survived a stern scare after coming back from a set down to defeat Ajla Tomljanović 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and move into the third round of the tournament. Her win came on the day where there were shocks galore in the women’s draw with seeds Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek and Petra Kvitova all crashing out.

Svitolina will play Greece’s Maria Sakkari in the next round whom she has lost to in two out of their three previous meetings.

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Why Ash Barty Isn’t Staying At The Olympic Village In Tokyo

The two-time Grand Slam champion has opted to stay at an alternate venue heading into the Games.

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Ashleigh Barty (AUS) playing against Angelique Kerber (GER) in the semi-final of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 10 Thursday 08/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

Ash Barty will prepare for her debut at the Olympic Games by staying at a base located outside of the athletes village as part of her ‘performance plan.’

 

The world No.1 heads into Tokyo as one of the favourites for gold following her triumph at Wimbledon where she defeated Karolina Pliskova in the final. She is one of six top 10 players set to play in the women’s singles tournament which will start on Saturday.

Leading up to the Games, the head of the Australian Olympic delegation has told reporters that Barty’s decision not to stay in the village will enhance her gold medal chances. In previous Games athletes have stayed outside of the villages but this year it is more challenging to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tokyo is currently in a state of emergency and fans are banned from attending the event amid fears of the virus spreading if they do so.

“Ash is staying elsewhere,” chef de mission Ian Chesterman told the Australian Associated Press.
“We have a number of athletes staying outside the village. We allow that, it’s just what works best for them.
“Something I’ve always been very big on is driving performance takes a whole lot of flexible decisions, flexible options.
“In terms of her performance plan, it’s best served by her being able to control her environment and we respect that.”

The exact location of Barty’s base has not been disclosed but it is near to the village where she was said to have visited and had a cup of coffee on Tuesday morning.

She is staying in an Australian environment where she can still easily access the village,” Chesterman stated.

The 25-year-old is bidding to become only the second Australian in history to win a medal in the women’s singles at the Olympics. The first was Alicia Molik who claimed a bronze medal back in 2004.

During a recent interview with The ITF, Barty said playing at the event is a dream come true for her as she describes representing her country as the ‘highest honour.’

“Being an Olympian has always been a dream of mine as a kid, I think representing your country is the highest honour,” Barty told the ITF.
“For an Aussie it’s the best thing you can do and I can’t wait to have an opportunity to wear the green and gold.
“You’re playing for something bigger than yourself. You’re playing to represent your nation. You’re playing to make people proud and that’s not just with results it’s with your attitude.”

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Bianca Andreescu pulls out of Tokyo Olympics

The world number five has officially pulled out of the Olympics in Tokyo stating reasons due to the ongoing pandemic situation.

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Bianca Andreescu will not be making the trip to Tokyo to play in the Olympics after withdrawing due to the current pandemic situation.

 

The former US Open champion issued a statement concerning what she describes as a ‘difficult decision.’ Andreescu is the latest top name to pull out of the Olympics. Last week Nick Kyrgios also said he wouldn’t be playing for similar reasons. Due to a a surge of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo, the city has gone into a state of emergency which prompted organisers to ban spectators from attending Olympic events in the city. Athletes will be subjected to tough restrictions during their time at the event, as well as regular testing.

” I would like to inform you that I have made the very difficult decision to not play in the Tokyo Olympics later this month,” Andreescu wrote on Instagram. “I have been dreaming of representing Canada at the Olympics since I was a little girl but with all the challenges we are facing as it relates to the pandemic, I know that deep in my heart, this is the right decision to make for myself. I look forward to representing Canada in future Fed Cup ties, and competing at the 2024 Olympics in Paris! “

The Canadian hasn’t played since losing in the first round of Wimbledon to Alize Cornet of France and most recently split with her coach Sylvain Brunneau after a four-year partnership.

Her 2021 season has been up and down starting in Australia where she lost in the second round before making the semifinals at the Phillips Island Trophy event. She then made the final at the Miami Open before taking a fall in the final against Ash Barty and was forced to retire due to injury.

Then the clay-court season came and Andreescu tested positive for Covid. She was forced to miss events in Madrid and Rome, so she headed to Strasbourg for some preparation before the French Open. The world No.5 won two matches in Strasbourg before pulling out due to an ab injury. She then lost in the first round of the French Open.

The Canadian moved on to the grass-court season heading to Berlin but again would get upset in the first round by Alize Cornet before winning one round in Eastbourne and losing to Anett Kontaveit.

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