Coco Gauff's US Open Triumph Fills A Gap Created By Exit Of Top Names, Says Roddick - UBITENNIS
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Coco Gauff’s US Open Triumph Fills A Gap Created By Exit Of Top Names, Says Roddick

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Andy Roddick believes the timing of Coco Gauff’s maiden Grand Slam win at the US Open couldn’t have been better for the sport. 

The 19-year-old clinched the biggest title of her career at Flushing Meadows earlier this month by fighting back from a set down to beat new No.1 Aryna Sabalenka. At the tournament, she also scored wins over Elise Mertens, Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Ostapenko and Karolina Muchova. Gauff is the youngest American to win a major title since Serena Williams in 1999 and is only the third teenager from her country to win the US Open in the Open Era.

Reflecting on the triumph of his competitor in his column for Betway, Roddick believes Gauff’s success has helped ease fears of a ‘vacuum’ forming in the sport caused by the retirement of some of the all-time greats. Roger Federer stepped away from the sport last year, as well as Serena Williams. Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal has indicated that it is likely that 2024 will be his last season on the Tour. The only member of the Big Three not contemplating retirement is Novak Djokovic who is even reportedly considering playing at the 2028 Olympic Games when he will be in his early 40s. 

“I was one of the dummies who questioned whether there would be a vacuum in tennis post Roger and Rafa and Serena, so the timing of Coco Gauff’s win couldn’t have been better, especially here in the US,” Roddick wrote. 
“Venus and Serena were Coco’s idols, so to announce herself on the Grand Slam stage in the first year of the US Open after Serena’s retirement – a tournament where we saw Serena carry the public interest for a couple of decades – is pretty poetic.”

Gauff is currently ranked third in the WTA standings. Besides the US Open, this season she has also won titles in Auckland (WTA 250), Washington (WTA 500) and Cincinnati (WTA 1000). As of this week, the only player to have won the same number of titles as her in the women’s game is Iga Swiatek. 

Although it is Gauff’s latest achievement that has elevated her to the limelight. Roddick believes she didn’t always play her best tennis in New York but has praised her ability to adapt to certain situations during matches. 

“She didn’t play her best every single match, including the final, so the most impressive thing to me was the adjustment in strategy and turning her average days into three-set wins,” he commented.
“She tried to go more toe-to-toe with Aryna Sabalenka in the first set and realised that wasn’t going to work, so she needed to make her hit as many shots as possible and rely on her legs. She went with the mentality of saying, ‘I’m going to be a volume shooter, you’re going to have to beat me four or five times in a rally and I’m going to bring 25,000 of my closest friends into this match, too.’
“It seemed to be a little too much for Sabalenka, who deserves credit for being the new No.1 in the world. It’s not the US Open title that she wanted, but it’s a hell of a consolation prize.”

A recent addition to Gauff’s team has been Brad Gilbert who is working as a consultant to the tennis star. Her main coach is Pere Riba. Gilbert had previously worked as Roddick’s coach between 2003-2004. During that period, he oversaw his run to the US Open title, year-end No.1 ranking, and journey to the final of Wimbledon. 

“I also couldn’t be happier for my old coach Brad Gilbert,”  said Roddick. “I’m sure there were times where he questioned whether he was going to coach again, especially someone that had the potential to win a Grand Slam, but I’m not at all surprised by the success that he’s had with Coco.”
“I think he’d been running a lot of those parallels with me from 20 years ago, but the difference is that she’s not going to stop at one.”

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Rising Star Mirra Andreeva Teams Up With Wimbledon Champion Martinez

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Mirra Andreeva – Australian Open 2024 (foto: X @WTA)

Teenage sensation Mirra Andreeva has begun working with a former Grand Slam champion on a trial basis ahead of the French Open.

The 16-year-old has linked up with Conchita Martinez, who is overseeing her run at this week’s Rouen Open in France. Martinez peaked at a ranking high of No.2 during her career and won 33 WTA titles. After retiring from the sport, she has coached Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova. 

Andreeva’s latest partnership was formed with the help of her agent ‘two or three weeks ago.’ According to the WTA website, their practice week went well and now they are testing working together during a tournament. 

“So far, so good,” said Andreeva“I like it, I hope she likes it too. We will see how it will go and then we will decide about our next tournaments. I cannot say there are special aspects we are working on. But the first thing we worked on was my slice, because she was a good slicer. So she told me some tricks, and I’m trying to use it when I have time and a good possibility on court.”

Andreeva is currently ranked 43rd in the world and is the youngest player in the top 100. She has already reached the fourth round of both Wimbledon and the Australian Open but is yet to win a WTA title. So far this year the Russian’s best result was a quarter-final appearance at the Brisbane International. 

Martinez, who also reached the last 16 of a major at the age of 16, spoke about the teenager with Ubitennis during last year’s Wimbledon Championships. At the time she pointed out that consistency is key for the youngster.

“The most important thing is that she keeps practising and focusing on what she has to do to get better. It’s great what she is doing now but she has to maintain it,” she commented.

Andreeva kicked off her campaign in Rouen with a 6-1, 6-3, win over Nadia Podoroska. 

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Red-Hot Danielle Collins Ready To Take On Red Clay After Charleston Triumph

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Image via https://twitter.com/CharlestonOpen/

Just how good is Danielle Collins?

Right now, she may be as good as anyone on the WTA Tour.

Just think about it. Who’s better?

Winning a seven-round near-major one week on hard courts, then putting together six straight victories the next week on green clay is fairly significant.

Collins didn’t go against a lame duck field in either tournament, especially at the Credit One Charleston Open where she defeated three of the best clay-courters on the tour in Ons Jabeur, Maria Sakkari and Daria Kasatkina, as well as the likes of Sloane Stephens and Paula Badosa. She defeated a Wimbledon champion, Elena Rybakina, on hard courts in the Miami final.

ONLY TWO LOSING SETS IN 28

Collins lost only two of the 28 sets she played in Miami and Charleston.

Of course, second-ranked Aryna Sabalenka and third-ranked Coco Gauff are power players on any surface. But after those two, Collins looks capable of winning anything in sight. It would be interesting to see Collins take on either of those two on Europe’s red clay.

Collins now has played about as brilliantly in these two tournaments as Sabalenka, Gauff or top-ranked Iga Swiatek have played within the last year.

Collins has the type game no one wants to play against right now. She has jumped all the way to 15th in the world after her success at Miami and Charleston.

COLLINS DOMINANT IN FINAL

Against 2017 Charleston winner Kasatkina in Sunday’s final, Collins was dominant in a 6-2, 6-1 victory. The Russian didn’t have the game to match up with Collins’ power. Collins played to win, and wasted few opportunities.

No one on the WTA Tour attacks more aggressively than the 30-year-old Collins. Short balls end up being a “done deal” when Collins moves in on them and smashes forehands, backhands and lobs away. She nails high back-handed returns of lobs to the corners with the same type of precision she connects with high forehand put-aways inside the court. Few players can hit that type of backhand high volley with such power and precision.

 She also plays the baseline as aggressively as anywhere else, and her serve is solid enough to keep her out of early trouble. Few double-faults find her racket.

LOCKED INTO PROCESS

“I think one of my biggest areas of improvement over the course of the last few weeks has been my concentration and focus and really being locked into my process,” Collins said after winning Charleston.

“These women that I’m playing against, they’re the best in the world, and it’s — sometimes things go your way and then sometimes things don’t go your way, and you have to be open to that when those times do happen.

“I’m really looking forward to getting home (Bradenton, Fla.) and getting some time to spend where I don’t think about tennis, and then hopefully when Madrid comes around I am back in ‘Danimal’ mode. Then it’s back to reality. So it’s like spring break for me. I feel like a kid at spring break.”

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Danielle Collins Extends Winning Streak To 12 Matches

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image via https://twitter.com/CharlestonOpen/

Danielle Collins just goes out and wins.

She wastes few shots and is a master of shot placements.

The court surface doesn’t seem to matter. She did it a week ago on hard courts to win the Miami Open. And she is doing it again at the Credit One Charleston Open on clay courts.

Collins has won 12 straight matches and is one win away from a coveted second straight title on the WTA Tour.

She’s unseeded, but keeps winning. She is the last American standing.

In Saturday’s Charleston semifinals, Collins scored a relatively easy 6-3, 6-3 win over third-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece.

KASATKINA STANDS IN COLLINS’ WAY

Just 2017 Charleston champion Daria Kasatkina is standing in the 30-year-old Collins’ way of a second straight tour title.

Oh, yes, Collins is playing her final year on the WTA Tour. She wants to go out a winner badly.

Kasatkina is the fourth seed, and she may already have played a key role in Collins’ drive to another title. Top seed Jessica Pegula appeared to be unbeatable in this Charleston Open until running  into Kasatkina in Saturday’s first semifinal and simply couldn’t close out the Russian when their  match was on the line.

PEGULA’S LOSS BIG SURPRISE

Pegula’s 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5) loss to Kasatkina was the biggest surprise of this tournament. Pegula had won the last 12 games of a 6-1, 6-0 win over Kasatkina in 2023 in Tokyo’s Pan Pacific Open.

Very tough match,” the ultra-conservative playing Kasatkina said about Saturday’s long match that ended in a third-set tiebreaker.
“Really happy with my win, with the way how I did it. And, yeah, really happy to be in the finals here again.”

Kasatkina has been impressed by Collins’ outstanding recent play.

“Danielle is, I think, playing the best tennis of her career right now. She’s fearless. When she feels her game, she’s one of the most dangerous players on tour, and she definitely feels it right now,” Kasatkina said.
“So, yeah, it’s going to be very tough battle. And it’s finals. I mean, it’s so nice. I’m so happy to be in the finals, and I think it’s going to be a good one. I think the atmosphere is going to be great because playing an American in the United States, it always brings some extra electricity on court. So, I’m really looking forward to it.”

COLLINS IMPRESSED BY KASATKINA’S PLAY

Collins also has respect for Kasatkina’s style of play.

“We’ve played so many matches against each other over the years and battles. She’s one of my favorite players to watch because she makes these matches so interesting,” Collins said about Kasatkina.

“The way that she plays and her tennis IQ, how creative she is on court is phenomenal. I think against Daria I have to be very flexible. She has just about every tool in her toolbox. She can hit big. She can hit with shape. She can hit slices. She can come into the net. She does everything very, very well. She serves and returns well. She mixes up her pace. She’s just solid all over. And so, it’s going to be a battle, and I have to be ready to play a long, tough match, if that’s what’s needed.

“I’ll have to kind of take a little bit more of a look statistically at some things and some different patterns, but I think the biggest thing is just fighting until the end and being adaptable out there.”

About her win over the usually solid Sakkari, Collins said, “I think my aggressive game style helped me. I had to stick with it. And she was throwing a lot at me and doing a lot of different things.
“So, I had to try to counter that and use my aggressive game style as much as I could.”

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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