‘The Full Package’ - Maria Sharapova Hails The Rise Of Coco Gauff - UBITENNIS
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‘The Full Package’ – Maria Sharapova Hails The Rise Of Coco Gauff

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Cori Gauff - Australian Open 2023 (Twitter @AustralianOpen)

Former world No.1 Maria Sharapova believes US Open champion Coco Gauff can transcend the world of tennis and beyond. 

Earlier this month, the 19-year-old American claimed her maiden Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows by beating world No.1 Aryna Sabalenka in the final. In doing so, she has become the youngest player from her country to win a major title since Serena Williams in 1999. Gauff has also enjoyed success elsewhere over the summer by winning titles in Washington and Cincinnati. 

The breakthrough has been hailed by Sharapova who was 17 when she won the 2004 Wimbledon Championships. Speaking to Andrea Petkovic on The Rennae Stubbs Tennis Podcast, she predicts a big future for the rising star of women’s tennis. 

“I have been saying for years that I think she has the ability to transcend the sport into so many [areas], bridging entertainment, sport and culture, and fashion,” said Sharapova.
“She has such a great voice and is an amazing competitor, which is just like the full package. And it came together for her in New York City.”

Despite her young age, Gauff has already been on the Tour for a few years. At the 2019 Wimbledon Championships, she produced a stunning run to the fourth round after coming through the qualifying tournament at the age of 15. Soon after that, many were tipping her to become a formidable force in the sport with there being a lot of expectations placed on her.

Whilst it has been four years between Gauff’s Wimbledon breakthrough and her winning the US Open, Sharapova believes that there are plenty of positives that can be drawn from her experience.

“I think her journey has been interesting. From the age of 16 she has been the prospect and the target and everyone believed that she would get there,” she commented. 
“It’s perhaps taken a little bit longer but I think for her that may be helpful because it took a few years to figure it out, as opposed to coming out on top at the very beginning and then being so surprised by everything that comes her way.”

Gauff is coached by Pere Riba and also has Brad Gilbert as a consultant. Gilbert has previously worked with the likes of Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray. Both men have been credited for aiding her recent success on the Tour. 

“She has a great team and the genuine support from her parents is very evident,” Sharapova commented. 
“It’s a beautiful story. Does that mean she is going to go out and win every Grand Slam? This is sport, that never happens, you end up losing a few more than you win. But those wins are very special and I am sure she will handle the ups and downs brilliantly.”

Gauff is set to return to competitive tennis next week at the China Open. 

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Paula Badosa Continues French Open Bid Alongside Ongoing Injury Battle

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Shortly before this year’s French Open Paula Badosa had doubts that she would be able to play in the tournament due to an issue that has hampered her progression in the sport.

The former world No.2 plays on the Tour with pain in her back that originated from a stress fracture she suffered last season. Doctors have previously told Badosa that it would be ‘complicated’ if she continues her career but the Spaniard has opted to do so. Although it is a far from easy task. 

Badosa began her French Open campaign on Tuesday with a hard-fought 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, win over 26th seed Katie Boulter. The victory follows up on her recent encouraging run at the Italian Open where she reached the fourth round before losing to Coco Gauff.

“It’s not easy,” the world No.139 said of her physical issues after beating Boulter.
“After Rome, I felt pain in my back again, I had to return to Spain. Many doubts arose, and uncertainty. I wondered how I am going to continue like this, depending on the injections.”
“Today, I have to live with the pain and stop training. It happened to me a couple of days ago, in fact. Then, in some sections of the game, I feel it a little more and I get scared.”

It is tough for any player to cope with such a situation whilst also having to deal with their opponent on the court.Badosa has won a trio of WTA titles so far in her career, including the prestigious Indian Wells Open in 2021. She is also a former quarter-finalist at the French Open. 

“In the end, I’m struggling with that, with the rival in front of me and with myself, because I also miss a lot of points,” she said.
“There are so many things when I play a game that it becomes difficult for me. Sometimes it is difficult for me to control my emotions.”
“In the first set (against Boulter) I feel like a mountain and I think, I can’t continue like this. On the other hand, when the match ends, I am proud of how I was able to overcome those thoughts and I say to myself, come on, come on, tomorrow I have another chance “Let’s see how I get up and how I am. But I’m struggling with a lot of things.”

Given her back problem, questions have been raised about why Badosa has opted to also play in the mixed doubles tournament alongside her partner Stefanos Tsitsipas. The two recently confirmed they are in a relationship again after going through a brief separation. 

“Honestly, I don’t rest on a rest day, I have to train… As I have many things to improve in my tennis, especially the first shots, the volleys, the serve, the rest… It seemed to me that it was a good idea being able to play doubles or mixed,” she explained. 
“In this case, because of the relationship I have and the partner I have [Tsitsipas], who is going to do a lot of work and is going to help me a lot in that aspect, I think it is a good idea.
“In the end, the mixed doubles is an hour, an hour and a half, and it helps me train.”

In the second round of the French Open singles tournament, Badosa will play Yulia Putintseva. 

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Roland Garros 2024: Alize Cornet Hands Out Advice After Ending 20 Year Career

Alize Cornet has revealed she would like to be an author as her 20 year tennis career came to an end.

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(@usopen - Twitter)

Alize Cornet’s 20 year career is over after the Frenchwoman lost 6-2 6-1 to Australian Open finalist Qinwen Zheng.

Cornet began her career at 15 years old where she would go on to win six career WTA singles titles as well as reaching a Grand Slam quarter-final.

The Frenchwoman also managed to beat Serena Williams during her career and reached a career-high ranking of eleven in the world.

However Cornet’s time as a tennis player is up and after the match she told journalists that she is at peace with her decision, “If we stick to the last 24 hours, I would say that I was quite peaceful. I was at peace,” Cornet explained in her press conference.

“What was difficult was to think about the match as a competitive player,
thinking that I could win, and not think about the good-bye messages to deliver afterwards.

“So I woke up this morning, and I thought, oh, well, I’m saying everything this morning. When I warmed up, I thought, okay, it might be the last time. But the momentum was that I had to stay focused in the game and not thinking it’s over already.

“Now I can say it’s over. I did my best on the court. This player is very aggressive. She’s a very tough opponent. It’s hard to win against her. I tried to do my best, and then with the emotion, I think I actually performed quite well in the end.”

It was a courageous performance from Cornet as she said goodbye to a sport she has been part of for two decades.

This hasn’t been a decision that Cornet has taken suddenly as she revealed after the match that she has thought about this decision since January, “No, I have been thinking about the new chapter in my life long ago already,” Cornet revealed.

“For several months, since January, I’ve been preparing progressively to say good-bye to everyone. So I think I have been self-motivating about it. I realized the situation. I’m at peace with everything, the message that I conveyed.

“The moment that I lived on court is memorable and the video that they prepared for me moved me so much. The fact that I could speak at length on court to everyone was such a wonderful opportunity. It’s great to finish on a high note, speaking to the fans and to my friends and relatives in the stands.

“Maybe it will be difficult in the weeks to come, but my feeling is that I have
done my duty, I went till the end of the adventure, and that was important
for me. We’ll talk about it sometime later to see if I’m still at peace, but for the moment, I’m fine.”

Finally Cornet revealed a piece of advice she would give to people being a tennis player as she now prepares to become an author, “So I would just say stay as you are and be yourself. Don’t fight to be perfect, because you will never be perfect, and you will waste a lot of energy doing so,” Cornet stated when asked what she would say to the 15 year-old version of her.

“Be genuine. Be loyal and truthful, and people will accept you as you are or
not. At 15 years old, the teenager that I was already knew what she had to
do as far as tennis was concerned but it’s another thing to accept one’s self
as we are as a person.

“Now it’s a new chapter in my life. I’m reaching new horizons. So it’s true that I’m writing. As an author, I have a backup plan ahead of me, but
the lifestyle will change completely.

“That frightens me, because I have been working as a tennis player for 20 years. I need to find purpose again in my life. I need to plan ahead, to see
and understand what I’m going to become. Again, I know that I can work on
myself. I can work out a new state of mind.

“I am a resourceful person. I know that I will find new projects where I can blossom again. It might not be tennis. It will certainly not be the same emotions that I’ve had so far, but I know that I can be happy again somewhere else.”

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“It’s Purely Psychological” – Maria Sakkari Berates ‘Unacceptable’ French Open Defeat

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Maria Sakkari - Roma 2023 (foto Francesca Micheli, Ubitennis)

Greece’s Maria Sakkari said she felt ‘intense anxiety’ before her first round match at the French Open after crashing out of the draw on Monday.  

The sixth seed suffered a shock 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, loss to Varvara Gracheva who is currently ranked 88th in the world. Sakkari produced a costly 39 unforced errors and dropped serve five times in her latest match. It is the first time she has lost her opening match at a tournament since February.  

Heading into Paris, the 28-year-old had produced encouraging results on the Tour after reaching the semi-finals in Charleston before making fourth round appearances at WTA 1000 events in Madrid and Rome. 

 “It’s the first time I don’t know what to say…” Sakkari told SDNA
“I’ve been very well these days. It was very sudden for me too, I started feeling intense anxiety before the match. I would really like to give the right answers, but all I have to say is that I have been very well these days. No matter what set I played, no matter what practice I did, everyone could see that I was fine. It’s definitely psychological, purely. It’s nothing else.” 

Since appearing in two Grand Slam semi-finals in 2021, Sakkari has struggled to make an impact at the major events. Her defeat to Gracheva makes it the fourth time she has lost in the first round of a Grand Slam since the start of last year. Overall, she has only managed to win back-to-back matches in two out of her nine most recent appearances at these tournaments. 

 “I won the first set and I kept getting nervous. My pulse was very high throughout the match, especially until the middle of the third set,” she said of her latest performance.
“I was feeling a panic, it’s not like I won the first set and relaxed. Maybe if I had broken the first game of the second set things would have been different. But what can we say now?’  
“It’s purely psychological, I’m not hiding. I will not look for excuses. I put too much pressure on myself, not to lose another game in the first or second round of a Grand Slam. Everyone around me tries to tell me that it happened in New York too, but then I recovered. However, it is not the same. I’ve recovered and I’m playing well in the other tournaments, but it’s proven that I’m not playing well in the Grand Slams. I feel it’s one thing, another thing.” 

Whilst praising her opponent, Sakkari describes her defeat as ‘unacceptable’ and hopes it will serve as a wake-up call for her.  

She now heads to the grass season with a win-loss record of 19-10 so far this year.

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