Coco Gauff’s Australian Open Ends In Tears, But Sets Sights On Olympic Debut - UBITENNIS
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Coco Gauff’s Australian Open Ends In Tears, But Sets Sights On Olympic Debut

The tennis prodigy has big ambitions for the coming months.

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Within two days Coco Gauff’s Australian Open journey have gone from one extreme to the other.

 

On Friday she stunned the women’s draw by knocking out defending champion Naomi Osaka in straight sets at the age of 15. Becoming the youngest player to defeat a defending champion in the Open Era at the tournament. Once again Cocomania erupted on the tour with many praising her as the next big thing in the sport. However, the fairytale run has come to an abrupt halt.

Returning to the court on Sunday, the teenage sensation was unable to maintain a one-set advantage as she crashed out 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-0, to Sofia Kenin. Another American rising star who won a trio of WTA titles last year. It perhaps wasn’t the best performance for Gauff, who exit the match shedding tears in the immediate aftermath.

“I was disappointed that I lost obviously. But I don’t really think anything of Naomi or my previous matches had anything to do. I think naturally when I lose, I’m just a bit emotional.” Said Gauff.

Amid the disappointment, Gauff is certainly heading in the right direction to become one of the world’s best. Following her latest win in Melbourne, her resume now includes being the youngest player to defeat a top five opponent since 1991 and the first American woman in 30 years to reach the third round (or better) of her first three grand slam tournaments.

Gauff herself believes she is rapidly improving on the tour. Especially when it comes to her fighting spirit on the court. Illustrated best by her win over Sorana Cirstea earlier this week when she came back from a set down.

“That I’m capable of coming back. I know my second round I was down.” She reflected.
“Also I think I just improved since Auckland (ASB Classic) to now, even though it was a short amount of time, just a week. I honestly feel like I improved a lot in that week.’
“With more training, I’m sure I’ll do better.”

It is that determination which the world No.67 aims to continue for the rest of the season. Due to her age, Gauff’s schedule is impacted by the WTA’s age eligibility rule. Which limits how many tournaments young players are allowed to play in order to prevent early burnout. It is commonly known as the Jennifer Capriati rule, who shot to fame at such a young age.

With prestigious events in Indian Wells and Miami on Gauff’s mind, she is also dreaming of making her Olympic debut later this year. A tough ask for the teenager. Not only is she limited to how many tournaments she can play, the American is yet to contest a Fed Cup tie. A key requirement for Olympic qualification. Although it is plausible that a counter argument could be presented regarding her age if her team wanted to make an appeal to the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

“That’s definitely the goal. Hopefully I can get my ranking up and qualify. I’m sure the cutoff is the French Open. I’m pretty sure I only have like three tournaments before French Open.” she said.
“It will be difficult. But I’m going to try as hard as possible. I definitely do want to play in the Olympics. Yeah, I mean, it would be pretty cool.”

The Olympic tennis competition will take place between July 25th – August 2nd in Tokyo, Japan.

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Fiona Ferro reaches the semifinal in Palermo

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French player Fiona Ferro cruised past Sara Errani 6-4 6-1 to advance to the semifinal of the Ladies Open in Palermo. World number 53 Ferro scored her third straight-set win this week. 

 

Errani earned an early break in the opening game of the first set. Ferro missed a break point chance at 2-1, but she broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. 

Ferro saved four break points in a 13-minute seventh game. Errani earned her fifth break point after a forehand error from Ferro and converted it with a backhand error to take a 4-3 lead. 

Ferro broke straight back with a backhand return winner down the line to draw level to 4-4. The French player held serve for 5-4 before earning three set points in the next game with three forehand. Ferro converted on her first set point after Errani netted a backhand. 

Ferro earned the first break of the second set to open up a 2-0 lead with a backhand winner. Ferro went up a double break to race out to a 4-0 lead. Errani pulled one break back at love and earned two game points at 4-1, but Ferro converted her third break point chance with a return winner to pull away to 5-1. Ferro earned three match points with a backhand winner and converted her first chance with a forehand winner down the line. 

Ferro will face either Dayana Yastremska or Camila Giorgi in the semifinal. 

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Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova skips the US Open

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Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova has decided to skip the US Open. The Russian player wrote a post on her Instagram account.

 

“I have been thinking a lot and decided not to play at the US Open. It was not easy because I hadn’t missed any Grand Slam in my entire career. Tennis is everything for me. The main reason is insecurity. The US Open does not guarantee any guarantees. I don’t feel comfortable to travel to the USA in such circumstances. I thank the USTA and the WTA that give a chance to play. From this moment, every player is on his own. My team and I have decided it would be for the best not to participate”, said Pavlyuchenkova. 

Pavlyuchenkova has joined the list of players, who have decided to miss the US Open. The list includes Nick Kygios, Rafael Nadal and Ashleigh Barty. More players are expected to make a final decision on travelling to the USA for the Western and Southern Open and the US Open in the coming weeks. 

Pavlyuchenkova advanced to the quarter finals at last January’s Australian Open and reached her career-high of world number 13 in the WTA singles ranking in July 2011. She is currently ranked world number 30 and claimed twelve singles and five doubles titles on the WTA Tour, including her biggest title at the Open GDF Suez and the Moscow Kremlin Cup in 2014. She got through to a Grand Slam quarter final six times and reached the top eight at least once in all four Grand Slam tournaments in singles and doubles. 

Last weekend Pavlyuchenkova won the Ultimate Tennis Showdown near Nice in the tournament organized by Patrick Mouratoglou. 

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Donna Vekic suffers shock loss to Italian wildcard

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Donna Vekic sensationally crashed out of the Palermo Ladies Open after slipping to a surprise 6-2 6-4 defeat to World No.156 Elisabetta Cocciaretto.

 

The Croatian, 24, was one of the favourites to win the tournament before it started. And her chances of glory looked even better after she produced an excellent display in the first round and three of the eight seeds were knocked out.

However, Vekic struggled from the outset against the 19-year-old Italian. She had to save three break points just to get to 2-2 in the opening set. Then she squandered a break point with a wild return in game five.

From that point on, the errors started piling up from the Croatian. She hit a forehand just wide on break point to enable Cocciaretto to go 4-2 up. Then she served poorly to allow the Italian to break her again and clinch the set 6-2.

Vekic wastes her chances

Elisabetta Cocciaretto (@LadiesOpenPA on Twitter)

Had she been playing well, Vekic would probably have established a 3-0 lead in the second set. She wasted a break point chance in the first game, meekly dropped her own serve in the second and then actually managed to break in the third game.

Somewhat surprisingly, the match then settled into a predictable rhythm as both players held serve comfortably during the next six games.

At 5-4 down, the Croatian faltered again. She hit an awful drop shot into the net to fall 15-30 behind. Then she hit a short serve and a short forehand and could only watch in horror as Cocciaretto crunched successive winners past her to seal victory.

“I’m really excited and really happy for the win and I want to thank all the fans,” the Italian said in her on-court interview. “I watched Flavia Pennetta and Sara Errani playing here when I was six years old and I dreamed of following in their footsteps. It’s incredible to think that I’m doing it now.”

Cocciaretto played well throughout the match. She defended resolutely and picked the right times to attack. However, Vekic let her dictate points far too often, and she never did anything to tip the momentum back in her favour. This may be what disappoints her the most about her performance.

As for the Italian wildcard, she can bask in the glow of her first-ever win over a Top-30 player. On Friday, she will play in her first-ever WTA quarter-final. She will face either Annet Kontaveit or Laura Siegemund.

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