WIMBLEDON: Cory Gauff has insisted that her priority in the immediate future on to build on her game following her exit from Wimbledon on Monday.
The fairytale run of the teenager was ended in the fourth round by former world No.1 Simona Halep, who prevailed in straight sets. Gauff is the youngest player in Wimbledon history to have ever come through qualifying. In the main draw, she scored wins over Venus Williams, Magdalena Rabrikova and Polona Hercog.
“I learned a lot. I learned how to play in front of a big crowd. I learned what it was like to be under pressure. I learned a lot and I’m really thankful for this experience.” The American reflected about her run at the grand slam.
Gauff’s rise in the world of women’s tennis has placed the spotlight on the WTA and their policy. Nicknamed the Capriati rule, young players are only allowed to play a certain number of tournaments in order to prevent burnout. Under the Age Eligibility Rule Gauff is allowed to play a maximum of 10 tournaments between her 15th and 16th birthdays. Plus one of the two year-end tournaments if she qualifies and the Fed Cup.
It is understood that officials are now looking into potentially making changes to the age policy. Although nothing is set in stone. 20-time grand slam champion Federer has previously said he was in favor of a revamp. Gauff is a member of Team8, which is a management company partly founded by Federer.
“I understand the rule completely that they want the young players not to play too much. I’ve told the WTA they should loosen up the rules.” He said last week.
“I loved seeing (Martina) Hingis doing what she did at a young age.’
“I think it would be nice if they could play more.”
Gauff, who will be finishing high school in two weeks time, has voiced her support for a potential review. Saying that she would like to be given the opportunity to play more matches on the WTA Tour at her age. As it currently stands, she can only play seven more tournaments until she turns 16 next March.
“I definitely understand why the rules are there. It’s definitely to protect the player. But obviously, I will want to play more. We’ll see. I heard the rule is under review, so we’ll see what happens there.”
The question is what would Gauff do is there was no rule in place? When asked directly, she ruled out wanting to turn full-time at present. Although Halep believes she has the ability to crack the top 10 ‘soon.’
“I still think I wouldn’t play, like, as much as players do, the older players do, just because I’m still trying to develop my game and I’m still trying to train,” Gauff explained.
“I feel like I would obviously play more than the rules state, but I think I wouldn’t try to overdo it because I’m still 15. My game isn’t nearly as good as I want it to be. Taking more time to train.”
Besides leaving Wimbledon with £176,000, the rising star will also rocket up the WTA rankings. She is projected to be elevated into the top 150. Her plans over the coming months are to play in a couple of events during the US Open series. Asked what her aim was in her next tournament, she gave a direct answer.
“My next goal would be to win the next tournament I play. I don’t know what the next tournament will be.” She replied.
“We’ll see what happens.”
As the tennis world waits to see what is next for Gauff, the WTA is facing pressure to change the ways. The question is will they?
Kiki Bertens, Aryna Sabalenka Victorious On Opening Day Of Elite Trophy
The higher ranked players have made a solid start at the penultimate tournament of the 2019 WTA season.
Top seed Kiki Bertens has kicked-off her campaign at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai with a roller coaster straight sets win over Donna Vekic.
Bertens, who hasn’t won a title on the tour since the Madrid Open in May, overcame some testing moments to see off her opponent 7-6(5), 6-2. Extending her head-to-head record against Vekic to 4-3. The Dutch No.1 dropped her serve once in each set on route to victory. Winning 74% of her first service points and converting four out of her seven break point opportunities.
“The first set was really close. We were both fighting for the first set. I think Donna was a little bit injured, but in the second set, I was just trying to get my best from every point and I did that really well.” Bertens said during her on-court interview.
The latest clash between the two was a tale of two halves. To begin, it was Vekic who got off to a better start as she broke right away before the world No.10 clawed her way back to draw level midway through the opener. With little to separate the two, Bertens seized her chance in the tiebreak. Tied at 5-5, she broke the Vekic serve with the help of a clean backhand passing shot for a chance to serve the set out. An opportunity she converted with the help of a forehand error from her opponent.
Clinching the lead, the proceedings were interrupted by a medical time out for Vekic. Who underwent some treatment on her lower back. Upon resumption it was a one-way show with Bertens racing to a set and 5-0 lead. Even a wobble at the very end, where she lost two games in a row, failed to deny the top seed victory.
“I think I went for her shots there and hit a few good returns. My concentration was maybe not there, but I am happy that I could close it (the match) out at 5-2.” Bertens commented about the end to the match.
It is the fourth time Bertens has played Vekic this season. She has won three of those encounters.
Earlier in the day Aryna Sabalenka was another player to make a winning start at the tournament. The fifth seed ousted Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-4. Sabalenka saved all five of the break points she faced throughout the 89-minute clash and dropped just four points behind her first serve (24/28).
Sabalenka is playing in the Rose Group of the round-robin tournament, which also features Elise Mertens. Meanwhile Bertens heads the Azalea Group with a clash against Dayana Yastremska lurking in the coming days.
Kristina Mladenovic Dropped By Coach After Six Months
The 26-year-old reacts to the unexpected departure of her mentor.
Former top 10 player Kristina Mladenovic has suffered an off-court blow following the departure of her coach Sascha Bajin.
The 26-year-old had been working with Bajin since April and has made steady progress on the tour by rising more than 20 places to back inside the world’s top 40. Last Month Mladenovic reached the semi-finals of the Zhengzhou Open, in what was one of her best runs on the WTA Tour this year. During 2019 she has also recorded four wins over top 10 players, including Naomi Osaka when she was No.1 in the world.
It is understood that the departure of Bajin was on his own terms and not of a mutual agreement. Bajin is the former hitting partner of Serena Williams (2008-2015) and help guide Osaka to her two grand slam titles prior to his departure in February. In 2018 he was awarded the inaugural WTA Coach of the Year Award.
“I’m very disappointed about Sasha’s decision not to continue our relationship next season, I enjoyed our work, we had some great wins and I truly felt my game was on the rise again.” Mladenovic wrote on Twitter.
“I think that there was a lot more to achieve together, but I can’t change his opinion and decision. On my side, I am proud of my year and progress and I will keep working hard and build strong to be even better in 2020.”
Last week at the Kremlin Cup Mladenovic reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual champion Belinda Bencic. At the tournament she scored wins over seeded players Anastasija Sevastova and Kiki Bertens. Whilst her season has been mixed, the Frenchwoman believes she has the ability to beat the best players in the world.
“When I put together everything on court I can beat anyone.” She told reporters in Moscow.
“And no matter what the season, no matter what ranking, I always have some upsets here and there but now it is really about coming back in the rankings where I was at my highest. And already this year, I am still not satisfied with my ranking but I have a lot of wins against very good players.”
Mladenovic, who is also a top five doubles player that won the French Open title in June, is currently ranked 39th in the world. She is set set to end the season inside the top 50 for the fifth year in a row.
There has been no information released about who may potentially replace Bajin next year.
Belinda Bencic ‘Happy’ After Qualifying For WTA Finals In Moscow
Belinda Bencic is delighted after not only reaching the Moscow Final and qualifying for the WTA Finals.
Belinda Bencic expressed her happiness after qualifying for the WTA Finals after a 6-3 6-4 win over Kristina Mladenovic in Moscow.
The world number 10 had to reach the final before this week started to secure her place in the season-ending finale and that’s what has happened after beating Mladenovic in straight sets.
Hitting 24 winners, Bencic powered past her French opponent to seal her spot at the WTA Finals for the first time in her career.
After the win Bencic is relieved to achieve a goal that she had set at the start of the year, “I’m so happy I reached the top eight,” the Swiss admitted to wtatennis.com.
“It was a huge goal for me this season and so last-minute. I was so nervous before the match, but also reaching the final here tomorrow is amazing. I’m so happy.
“It was such a good level from us. We know each other well so that’s why it was very tactical. I just tried to really focus on myself and keep my emotions under control.”
As a result of Bencic’s qualification, the field for the WTA Finals is set, which starts on the 28th of October:
- Ashleigh Barty
- Karolina Pliskova
- Naomi Osaka
- Elina Svitolina
- Bianca Andreescu
- Simona Halep
- Petra Kvitová
- Belinda Bencic
The first alternate for the season-ending finale will be Serena Williams, with Kiki Bertens being the second alternate in Shenzhen.
As for Bencic, her week in the Russian capital isn’t done yet as she is set to play Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Karolina Muchova in tomorrow’s Kremlin Cup.
Should the 22 year-old win tomorrow she will win her second title of the season following on from her victory in Dubai in February.
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