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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Caroline Wozniacki’s Father Criticises WTA For Lack Of Help For Mothers On Tour

Caroline Wozniacki was not given a wildcard for Rome or Roland Garros.

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Piotr Wozniacki has labelled the WTA as ‘amateur’ for their treatment of mothers on tour as he claims that Caroline Wozniacki should have had more wildcards.

The former Australian Open champion has played ten events since she announced her comeback last year.

Wozniacki has recovered her ranking to 117 in the world and her comeback has resulted in a fourth round appearance at the US Open as well as a quarter-final result at Indian Wells.

However the Dane has not been successful in gaining wildcards recently with both Rome and Roland Garros not offering Wozniacki one.

It’s a decision that Wozniacki’s father, Piotr, has not been happy with as he explained with Sport.PL, “The WTA believes that it is operating in an amateur fashion in the world of the largest professional women’s sport of all sports in the world. They sign contracts with the players and the players are obliged to do certain things under these contracts. And what do they get? Nothing, really nothing!” Piotr was quoted by tennisuptodate as saying.

“All wild cards, and there were 8 of them, were given to the Italians. I understand promoting their players, but how can you give the right to play in a tournament of this rank to such girls who should not even think that they could play in a Masters yet?

“Caroline was number one in her ranking. She won a Grand Slam tournament, won the Masters, played in almost 60 finals of their tournaments and won 30. So we are talking about a complete tennis player, someone who did a great job, who certainly increased the popularity of tennis, who earned a lot of money herself, but let them earn money. even much more.

“And it turns out that when someone like Caroline Wozniacki comes back as Caroline Wozniacki and family, she is no longer welcome. We can’t even prepare Caroline’s starting plan! We train, we prepare, and it turns out that there is nothing to do.

“This is happening because today in tennis everything is based only on relationships, on acquaintances, and not on clear rules. The thing is that if we know the organizers or tournament directors, we get a chance to play, but if we don’t know someone somewhere, they don’t want us there.

“Naturally, after the maternity break, my daughter had zero points. It takes a lot of time to start from scratch and reach the top, but we would do it patiently, but how can we do it when you don’t let a girl like that work for it? The rules in tennis today are such that there is no longer a mandatory wild card for someone who was once in the top 20, had a long break and came back.

“This card was really helpful for tennis players coming back after having a baby and for those coming back from serious injuries. And now Caroline, Angelique Kerber or Naomi Osaka are dependent only on someone else’s decisions. Since last year, all wild cards are the property of the tournaments, and the WTA washes its hands of them.”

It’s clear the Wozniacki family is disappointed as the Dane could be set to cancel her comeback next year.

However there is optimism that Wozniacki will receive one at Wimbledon as she has had past success on grass courts.

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In-Form Iga Swiatek Not Taking Anything For Granted Ahead of French Open Title Defence

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Iga Swiatek says she must remain ‘humble’ heading into the French Open despite being a strong favourite for the title.

The world No.1 is on a 12-match winning streak after claiming back-to-back WTA 1000 titles in Madrid and Rome. A milestone that has only previously been achieved by Dinara Safina and Serena Williams. In her latest match, she dropped five games against Aryna Sabalenka in the final of the Italian Open. She now leads the Belarusian world No.2 8-3 in their head-to-head.

“I’m maybe chilled out compared to Madrid after the final because that final was so surreal. It is a little bit different. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m really proud of myself and really happy.” Said Swiatek.
“I’m happy I was so focused and disciplined throughout the tournament. I feel like I’m in the right place.” 

The confidence is high for the Pole heading into Roland Garros which she will be aiming to win for a fourth time since 2020. In the Open Era, only three women have won the French Open four or more times – Justine Henin, Steffi Graf and Chris Evert.

However, Swiatek is not underestimating the work she will be required to put in to claim another major title. She failed to reach the quarter-final stage at her two most recent Grand Slam events, the US Open and French Open. 

“Obviously I am confident. I feel like I’m playing great tennis but that doesn’t change the fact that I just want to stay humble,” she said.
“Grand Slams are different. There’s a different pressure on the court and off the court. Of course I love to come to Paris and be there. It’s a great place for me to be and I really enjoy my time there.
“But these are hard seven matches that you need to win so I don’t take anything for granted.”

The Grand Slams are the holy grail when it comes to ranking points with the champions claiming 2000 points. In the past Swiatek has focused on her tally and ranking but this year she has a somewhat different perspective. 

“I’m less focused on rankings and points compared to last year. I felt like last year I needed to always to chase. Even though I was first, I felt like I had somebody behind my back.” Said Swiatek. 
“But this year, I just feel like I can focus on myself and not think about that because focusing on rankings is never helpful, I would say.
“There are plenty of things to focus on that we need to spend our energy for, that is just a waste of energy to focus on points and rankings.”

The French Open will get underway next Sunday. 

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Iga Swiatek Demolishes Aryna Sabalenka To Seal Third Rome Title

Iga Swiatek claimed her third Rome title after a dominant victory over Aryna Sabalenka.

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Iga Swiatek claimed her third Rome title by dominating Aryna Sabalenka 6-2 6-3 to send a big message of intent ahead of Roland Garros.

The world number one completed the Madrid and Rome double with a sensational performance.

Now Swiatek is the titleholder for the three biggest clay court titles as she will aim to defend her Roland Garros title.

The contest was a rematch from the Madrid final but this was far from the three hour contest that was produced in Spain.

Swiatek raised her level of play while Sabalenka committed way too many unforced errors throughout the contest.

The Pole broke on two occasions to wrap up a comfortable 37 minute set as her forehand was doing a lot of damage.

There was a comeback in the second set from the Australian Open champion as she produced effortless and consistent power, making the second set very competitive.

The world number one was forced to save break points as she just managed to be more stable on big moments.

A more controlled second set from Swiatek was rewarded towards the end of the set as once again Sabalenka crumbled under pressure when it mattered.

Two late breaks of serve completed the Swiatek surge as the Pole enters the second Grand Slam of the season in dominant form.

As for Sabalenka it’s a disappointing performance that she will look to put right at Roland Garros.

Roland Garros starts on the 26th of May where Swiatek is defending champion.

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