Coco Gauff Undeterred By Mouthwatering Australian Open Showdown With Osaka - UBITENNIS
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Coco Gauff Undeterred By Mouthwatering Australian Open Showdown With Osaka

The rising star looks ahead to her clash with the world No.4.

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Teenage sensation Coco Gauff says she has nothing to lose in her upcoming clash with Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open.

 

Gauff, who is the youngest player in this year’s draw at the age of 15, battled into the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday. Taking on Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, the American prevailed 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, after more than two hours of play. Coming back from a 0-3 deficit in the deciding set to progress into the last 32 of the tournament on her debut. Gauff has now won six main draw grand slam matches before her 16th birthday.

“I think I was just trying to stay calm mostly and stay positive. I’ve always believed that I can come back regardless of the score.” She commented about her latest win.
“The whole match I knew I needed to be more aggressive. I guess I finally decided to do that even though I wish I decided earlier.’
“I think I kind of felt the momentum changing. I knew I had to keep pressing.”

Tipped to be a future star of the women’s game, Gauff achieved another record with her latest win. She is the first female American player to reach the third round of her first three grand slam tournaments in 30 years. A fete that wasn’t even achieved by the formidable Williams sisters.

The reward for the youngster is a second meeting with two-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka, who won the Australian Open title 12 months ago. They first clashed at the US Open last September with the Japanese player dropping only three games against Gauff.

Despite being the underdog in the upcoming match, Gauff has vowed to give it her all. Now familiar with Osaka’s game on the court, the world No.67 believes she will be ‘less nervous’ during their next meeting.

“I think in general my mindset has always been nothing to lose really. Even when in juniors, even though I was ranked pretty high in juniors, I was technically supposed to win. Then I still felt like I had nothing to lose.” She explained.
“I still feel that now. I think my mindset just is I’m going to fight. If I lose, the world is not going to end. I’m going to have another match in maybe a week or so.’
“I think it’s just less pressure to win. I feel like for me, I’m not trying to win so much, but trying to play my best tennis on the court. Winning comes with that if I play good.”

Reflecting on their previous encounter, Gauff paid tribute to her rival. Who consoled her tearful opponent on the court following their match at the Arthur Ashe stadium. A gestured hailed by the teenager as ‘true sportsmanship.’

“I think that’s something if I had a child or something, that’s something I would want my child to see.” She said.
“It just shows what being a competitor really is. You might hate the person on the court, but off the court you love them, not really like hate. But you want to win.’
“Sometimes when we’re on the court, we say things we don’t mean because we have that mentality.”

Gauff will play Osaka on Friday. Osaka beat China’s Zheng Saisai 6-2, 6-4, in her second round match earlier in the day.

ATP

Alexander Zverev Going In The Right Direction, Says Becker

The German tennis legend gives his verdict on Zverev’s current form following his grand slam breakthrough.

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Former world No.1 Boris Becker believes Alexander Zverev’s recent run at the Australian Open was confirmation that he belongs at the top of men’s tennis.

 

Last month the 22-year-old achieved his best ever grand slam performance by reaching the semi-finals in Melbourne Park before losing to Dominic Thiem. At the tournament he scored wins over Andrey Rublev, who won two consecutive titles prior to the event, and former champion Stan Wawrinka. Zverev has been tipped as a future world No.1 in recent years and remains the only active player outside of the Big Four to have won three or more Masters trophies. Although he has previously struggled to shine in the biggest events of the sport.

“Alexander Zverev has made a great step forward with his first participation in a grand slam semi-final.” Becker told reporters in Berlin on Sunday. “Although he had difficult weeks before, for which there were reasons.”

At the start of the year it looked as if the world No.7 was in trouble. At the ATP Cup he lost all three of his matches played. A performance Becker blames on his off-season training. During November and December Zverev played a series of exhibition matches with Roger Federer across South America and China.

“He didn’t train enough during the winter break and came to Brisbane unprepared.” He said.
“We exchanged some serious words off the court and he took them to heart.’
“Of course I’m happy he had such success. This is also a confirmation for him that he belongs at the top of the world (in tennis).”
“But the competitors never sleep, that’s a never ending story. He has to confirm this again and again.”

So far in his career, Zverev has won 11 ATP titles and has been ranked as high as third in the world. His biggest triumph occurred towards the end of 2018 when he won the ATP Finals in London.

Reflecting on his Melbourne run last month, Zverev believes he managed to achieve the milestone thanks to a new approach he took to the event. Instead of looking at the whole tournament, he narrowed his focus to match-by-match.

“I went here in a different way. I went match by match. Didn’t look very far. I just knew I had opponents in front of me. I had to play well to beat them. That was it.” He said last month. “Whenever I won, I’d sit down in the locker room and somebody told me who I’m playing next.’
“I went step by step, match by match. Usually I [haven’t done] that in Grand Slams.”

Zverev will return to action next week at the Mexican Open in Acapulco. A tournament where he finished runner-up 12 months ago. Becker believes his compatriot could do some damage on the hard courts over the coming weeks with two prestigious North American events taking place next month in Indian Wells and Miami.

“The next tournaments are on hard courts in America. He will play there as well. There he can take a lot of points.” Becker concluded.

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Sofia Kenin Out To Prove Australian Open Triumph Wasn’t A One-Off

The world No.7 is out to make a statement in Dubai this week.

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Life has certainly changed for American rising star Sofia Kenin since the start of this year.

 

In the first week of January the Russian-born player was ranked 14th in the world and had only reached the fourth round of a grand slam tournament on one occasion. Then at the Australian Open she stunned the field by winning the title after defeating the more experienced Garbine Muguruza in the final. Not only did the milestone gift Kenin her maiden major title, it propelled her inside the world’s top 10. Becoming the youngest player from her country to do so since her idol Serena Williams back in 1999.

Now ranked seventh in the world, Kenin is looking to continue her momentum at this week’s Dubai Tennis Championships. Where she will be seeded fifth in the draw. It will be her first WTA event since Melbourne. Although she did feature in America’s Fed Cup play-off tie with Latvia earlier this month where she won two out of three matches played.

“I think it was better I played Fed Cup instead of taking a few days off,” Kenin told reporters in Dubai on Sunday. “I feel like I have more rhythm and I kept the momentum going. Hopefully, it’s going to help me here.”

The surge in expectation and interest in Kenin places her in uncharted territory. Young players in the past have struggled to live up to their grand slam achievements due to various reasons. Naomi Osaka has spoken openly about her struggles of coping in the media limelight. Meanwhile Jelena Ostapenko, who is now 22, has struggled to maintain her consistency on the tour since lifting the 2017 French Open crown.

“It’s a different pressure: you have more expectations from other people from the outside,” Kenin explained. “For me, I’m always hard on myself. Every tournament I go to, I obviously want to do well, so it’s nothing really different.
“The other expectations are a little bit different. I’ve got to somehow figure out how to manage it. We’ll see.”

At present the 21-year-old appears to be unfazed by the surge of interest in her as she vows to work even harder on the court. Kenin has in recent years been one of the tour’s most promising young players. A former world No.2 junior player, she won her first three WTA trophies last year. During 2019 she scored five wins over top 10 players such as Williams, Osaka and Ash Barty.

“It’s just more stuff to do. Everything is about the same. I’m still practicing, still working hard. Just going to keep grinding it and hopefully have more of those good results,” she said.
“It’s different, obviously. It’s a different pressure. You have more expectations from other people from the outside. For myself, I’m always hard on myself. Every tournament I go to, I obviously want to do well. So it’s nothing really different.”

In Dubai Kenin will start her campaign against Elena Rybakina later this week.

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ATP

New York Open Sunday Recap: Kyle Edmund Wins His Second Career ATP Title

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Kyle Edmund raising the trophy at the New York Open (newyorkopen.com)

And in an exclusive interview with UbiTennis, runner-up Andreas Seppi of Italy reveals he is pulling out of Delray Beach next week due to an injury suffered in the final.

 

In Sunday’s championship match, neither player faced a break point until 6-5 in the first set.  In that twelfth game, Seppi struggled to make first serves, with Edmund hitting winners off both sides to break and secure the first set 7-5.

Kyle would break again to open the second, as Seppi played another loose game with neutral ball errors and a double fault. Up a set and a break, Edmund began to swing freely. Despite that, Seppi was able to survive a barrage of Edmund groundstroke winners to save multiple break points at 0-3. Edmund would then hold at love to make it 4-1, when Seppi left the court for a medical timeout. When Andreas returned, Edmund broke again by outlasting Seppi in the longest rally of the match. Kyle then closed out the match 7-5, 6-1 to win the second ATP title of his career.

When I spoke with Andreas after the match, he told me he felt something in his left hamstring as he was running for a drop shot in the fifth game of the second set.  Seppi shared he will be skipping the Delray Beach event next week due to the injury, and will head home a week earlier than expected to rest and await the arrival of his first child.

“I just felt like I could really never put him under pressure today,” Seppi told me, when asked about how difficult it was to get into Edmund’s service games.

Edmund had a great serving day, striking 11 aces and facing no break points.  He won 94% of first serve points in the match (31/33), against a player in Seppi who had won 36% of his return games this week prior to today’s final.  I asked Kyle about how crucial his serving was in Sunday’s victory.

“When I got my first serve in I lost a couple points on it, so it really worked well for me. When you get that first strike in- I mean that big first serve in- when I can get on my forehand, that’s where I want to be, and I was winning a lot of points like that this week,” said Edmund.

Kyle also spoke about how important this title is to him.

“When you’re young and training, or playing tennis, these are the sort of things you imagine: wanting to win professional titles,” said Edmund.

In the doubles final, Dominic Inglot and Aisam-ul-Haq-Qureshi won their first title as a team, defeating Reilly Opelka and Steve Johnson 7-6(5), 7-6(6). Inglot and Qureshi initially served for the championship at 5-4 in the second, yet failed to close out the match. In the eventual second set tiebreak, Johnson narrowly missed a forehand down the line at 6-6. On the next point, an unreturned Inglot serve ended the American team’s quest for a title on home soil. Inglot and Qureshi were also finalists last week in Montpellier.

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