Coco Gauff Wary Of Australian Open Showdown Against Parks - UBITENNIS
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Coco Gauff Wary Of Australian Open Showdown Against Parks

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Coco Gauff says she is taking nothing for granted heading into her next Australian Open match against a player who she describes as ‘one of the most athletic’ on Tour. 

The reigning US Open champion sealed her place in the third round of the tournament on Wednesday with a 7-6(2), 6-2, win over compatriot Caroline Dolehide. Becoming the first American teenager to win nine consecutive main draw matches at Grand Slam events in the Open Era. 

It was far from a straightforward match for the world No.4 who lost a 3-0 lead in the opening set and was then broken at 5-5 before clawing her way back to prevail in the tiebreak. Gauff experienced a smoother ride in the second frame where she won five games in a row to seal victory. 

“I told myself I needed to be more aggressive because she was just running me around the court, especially using her forehand.” She said of her change of tactics between sets.
“For the first couple of games, she was making more errors, so I was just putting it (the ball) in play. Then she started to make them and play smarter and go for bigger targets. It started to get difficult, so I knew I needed to be on the offensive end if I wanted to win the match.’
“I tried, started to play, aiming deeper, I was okay with missing long, and also coming in, especially when I had her on the wrong foot.”

Gauff is bidding to become the first female player since Naomi Osaka to hold both the US Open and Australian Open titles at the same time. She currently has a win-loss record of 46-16 at major events. 

Awaiting her in the next round will be Alycia Parks who beat former Grand Slam finalist Leylah Fernandez 7-5, 6-4, in her second round match. It will be the first meeting between the two who have known each other since childhood. On paper, Gauff will be the favourite but she is taking nothing for granted.

“I have known her for a long time, since I was maybe nine years old. I used to practice with her and her sister.” Said Gauff.
“I think she’s one of the most, if not “the” most, athletic players on tour.’
“It’s going to be a tough match. I don’t expect it to be easy. I’ve never played her (on the WTA Tour) other than the mixed doubles we had at the US Open, but I’ve never played her in practice or anything. We’re both going in not blind because we watched each other but never hit or anything.’
“She’s a great player, and I always knew she was going to do well on tour. It was just a matter of when it was all going to align. I think now it’s starting to align.”

World No.82 Parks will be contesting a Grand Slam third round match for the first time in her career. She won her maiden WTA trophy last year in Lyon where she beat Caroline Garcia in the final. She is currently being coached by Australia’s Mark Hlawaty. 

“I know everyone else wants to see the matchup, but I think it’s pretty good to run across her in a slam, third round. I guess we’re both going to go out there and play our games and see where it goes.” Said Parks. 

One key area in the upcoming showdown with be the serve which can be a weapon for both players due to their powerful hitting. However, Gauff hopes she has the upper hand following her recent time spent training with Andy Roddick. 

“I think a small adjustment I made with Andy helped me be more consistent with the serve,” Gauff explained.
“That got me out of that last game, hitting those big aces or big body serves or even the slider Y. When I’m playing like that, it’s tough as an opponent because they don’t know where the serve is going to go. You know, sometimes I can serve it slower and sometimes it can come really fast.”

Gauff’s clash with Parks will take place on Friday. 

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Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

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It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

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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Wimbledon Finalist Jasmine Paolini – ‘I’m A Little Bit Scared To Dream Too Much’

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After coming close to her maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, Jasmine Paolini believes consistency is key to having another shot at glory.

The 28-year-old dropped only one set en route to becoming the first Italian woman to reach a Wimbledon final. However, she was denied the title by Barbora Krejcikova, who won in three sets. Paolini was broken once in the decider which was due to a double fault from the Italian following an unsuccessful hawk-eye challenge made on her first serve. Then she failed to convert two break points when down 4-5 before Krejcikova held to seal glory.

“I started bad,” she reflected afterwards.

“I took some time and try to relax and to come back in the second set stronger to try to push the ball more because I was a little bit controlling too much, and I missed a lot of shots.

“She was playing, honestly, very good the first set. She was serving really, really good. High percentage of first serves.

“It was tough but I think I did better than the last final (at the French Open), but still it’s not enough.”

Prior to Saturday, Paolini had scored wins over former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, Medison Keys (via retirement) and a marathon victory over Donna Vedic. She has now won 15 Grand Slam matches in 2024 compared to just one last season.

The defeat comes less than two months after the French Open where Paolini contested her first major final but lost in two sets to world No.1 Iga Swiatek. Since the start of this season, she has risen more than 20 places in the rankings and will reach No.5 on Monday.

Despite being in her late 20s, the Italian is producing some of her best tennis on the Tour. Something she credits to a combination of things. 

“I improved my game a little bit. I believe more in myself. I improved my serve. I think I improve the return.” She explained.

“I think physically I’m better than two years ago. I’ve been working with a new fitness coach for one-and-a-half years.

“There are many things, I think. Not just one. I think also winning matches helps a lot.”

Whilst she is heading in the right direction on the Tour, Paolini has vowed not to get too ahead of herself.

“Sometimes I’m a little bit scared to dream too much.” she said.

“I’m going back, trying to practice and stay in the present. This is the goal for me and my team, to try to keep this level as much as possible.

“If I keep this level, I think I can have the chance to do great things.

“Today I was dreaming of holding the (Wimbledon) trophy but it didn’t go well.

“I’m just enjoying the position where I am right now.”

Paolini has won 30 out of 43 matches on the Tour so far this season.

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Jasmine Paolini’s Wimbledon Run Hailed By Italian Prime Minister

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The Prime Minister of Italy has praised Jasmine Paolini for lighting up the hearts of others during her Wimbledon run. 

Paolini missed out on her first Grand Slam title to Barbora Krejcikova, who prevailed in three sets to capture her second major trophy. Despite her defeat, she has made history at the tournament by becoming the first female player from her country to reach the final. Until this year, she had never won a Tour-level main draw match on the grass. 

Whilst disappointed about missing out on the biggest title of her career, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni posted a tribute to Paolini on social media just moments after the final had concluded.

“Proud of Jasmine Paolini,” The Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) quotes Meloni as saying. 

“The first Italian tennis player to reach the final of the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. 

“Despite the defeat, you lit up the hearts of the Italian people, succeeding in conveying grit and passion to all of us who supported you”. 

Paolini is the first player ranked outside the top five to reach the final of both Wimbledon and the French Open within the same year since the ranking system was introduced in 1975. She is also only the fourth female player in the Open Era to have reached her first two Grand Slam finals in the same year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon after Chris Evert (1973), Olga Morozova (1974) and Steffi Graf (1987). 

Should she win three or more matches at the US Open later this year, she will also set a new Open Era record for the most Grand Slam wins achieved by an Italian female player in a single season. 

“The last two months have been crazy for me. I want to thank my team, and my family. They always support me and I wouldn’t be here without them. The crowd have been amazing. I received a lot of support. Just incredible to feel the love from them, I enjoy it so much.” Paolini said following her Wimbledon defeat. 

The 28-year-old will rise to a ranking high of No.3 on Monday. 

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