Coco Gauff Fights Back Against Jabeur To Reach French Open Semis - UBITENNIS
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Coco Gauff Fights Back Against Jabeur To Reach French Open Semis

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Coco Gauff overcame some emphatic play from Ons Jabeur to seal a place in the last four of the French Open for only the second time in her career. 

Gauff, who is the reigning US Open champion, recovered from a set down to beat the Tunisian 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, on the Philippe Chatrier court. The American was outplayed early on in the rollercoaster encounter before battling back to victory by winning 12 out of the last 15 games played in the match. She has now won 30 matches this season and extends her winning head-to-head record against Jabeur to 5-2. 

In her latest clash, 20-year-old Gauff hit 21 winners and capitalised on her rival’s unforced error count of 38.

“She’s a tough opponent and she’s well-loved on Tour. I could tell the crowd today wanted her to win. Honestly, whenever I’m not playing, I cheer for her too,” Gauff said in tribute to Jabeur. 
“The people up there (in the stands) made it fun for me. I like playing in environments like this. Even though you guys are pro-Ons I had a lot of fun.
“Even when I lost the first set and they were chanting when I was in the bathroom. I was like this is really fun – win or lose.”

Compared to their previous meeting at the 2023 WTA Finals where she won only one game, Jabeur was a completely different player as she pilled the pressure on Gauff straight away with the American coming through a six-minute opening service game. Her technique was a combination of hitting deep towards the baseline and then producing delicate drop shots to frustrate her opponent. Jabeur broke for the first time in the seventh game with the help of a Gauff backhand error to move ahead 4-3. Showing no visible signs of nerves, she closed the set out in under 40 minutes with an ace down the centre of the court. 

Gauff, whose previous three losses at Roland Garros were to players who went on to win the title, finally generated some momentum early on in the second frame at the expanse of some loose hitting from an increasingly erratic Jabeur. Three consecutive breaks in her favour guided the world No.3 to drawing level in the match. 

Continuing to weather the storm, she inflicted her final blow four games into the decider after back-to-back Jabeur errors from the backhand side handed her another break for a 3-1 lead. The eighth seed continued to produce glimmers of her impressive shotmaking but they were not consistent enough to stop Gauff in her tracks. Serving for the match, she recovered from a 0-30 deficit and then saved a break point before sealing victory after a Jabeur smash landed out. 

“I was trying to be more aggressive, she was playing well the whole match.” Said Gauff.
“She hit a lot of winners against me which was something that I was not used to. I got a bit tight in the last couple of match points but I did what I needed to do to win the match.”

Gauff heads into the semi-finals having dropped just one set in five matches played. A former champion in the junior tournament back in 2018, she is bidding to become the first American to win the trophy since Serena Williams in 2015. 

The third seed is the youngest player to reach three or more consecutive Women’s Singles semi-finals at Grand Slam events since Maria Sharapova. She is also only the second woman since 2000 to claim 20+ wins at Roland Garros before turning 21 after Iga Swiatek. A player who she could play in the next round. 

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Jasmine Paolini Looks Great, But Krejcikova Is Next At Wimbledon

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Jasmine Paolini’s path to a Grand Slam title might have fallen apart in Wimbledon’s semifinals.

Barbara Krejcikova is just the kind of player Paolini might not want to face.

Otherwise, grass is good for Paolini. She just eats up all of those low ball-sliding grass shots that her opponents have been providing. Those shots are perfect for the 5-3 Italian. She doesn’t have to get down very low since she is naturally there already, and she has great quickness. So,  Wimbledon’s grass was made for someone like Paolini.

CAN PAOLINI HANDLE KREJCIKOVA’S BAG OF TRICKS

Krejcikova has a bag full of tricks to throw at Paolini. Balls come off her racket twisting and turning just enough to throw Paolini’s reach-back cocked forehands off their mark. And Krejcikova has the experience needed to bring home an overall 12th Grand Slam title.

But you have to admit that the stubby Paolini is quite a player. She’s like a bouncing ball running loose on the court.

Paolini definitely was a superb player against new star Emma Navarro, who could do little right against the little Italian. Paolini just did everything to Navarro’s game that Navarro had been using to dominate the Italian.

THE SLY GAME OF KREJCIKOVA

Navarro couldn’t take charge of the points against Paolini in the quarterfinals, just the opposite of Navarro’s play against powerful Coco Gauff in the round of 16.

But Krejcikova is so sly with her game that she can take the rhythm right out of Paolini’s game.

After all, Krejcikova won the 2021 French Open singles title. She also has been a part of doubles champions at all four Grand Slams, and has won a total of seven Grand Slam doubles titles and three Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.

That’s 11 Grand Slam titles. What’s another title to the 28-year-old Czech?

VEKIC HAD HER CHANCES

Donna Vekic had her chances to end Paolini’s march to Saturday’s final, but the 28-year-old Croatian seemed to go for broke every time down the stretch when she had an add or deuce point. That’s probably why the 28-year-old Vekic has never been ranked higher than 19th in the world.

Time after time Vekic went for the jugular with sizzling  cross-court shots that narrowly missed the lines late in the third set before losing, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6.

Of course, Paolini’s amazing quickness may have had something to do with those misses.

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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Inspiration Key To Italy’s Tennis Success, Says Jasmine Paolini

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Jasmine Paolini - Wimbledon 2024 (X @wimbledon)

Unlike Italy’s disappointing exit from the Euros last month, their tennis stars continue to make waves at Wimbledon.  

Thursday at The All England Club saw Jasmine Paolini become the first woman from the country to reach a singles final in its history. The French Open finalist ousted Donna Vekic in a three-set epic, which was the longest semi-final match to take place in the women’s tournament. She is the first payer to reach the final of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year since Serena Williams in 2016. 

Paolini, who had never won a match at the grasscourt major until this year, isn’t the only Italian success. In the men’s draw, Lorenzo Musetti is enjoying his best-ever run at a major event after beating Taylor Fritz in a five-set battle on Wednesday. There is also Jannik Sinner who holds the ATP No.1 ranking, as well as many other strong players.

So how has Italy become such a force in tennis?

“I think we are inspiring each other,” Paolini commented on Thursday.
“I have to say in Italy there are many, many tournaments, like challengers, ITF, juniors.
“I think every player shows that something can be possible. Jannik is showing that. In Italy now it’s normal to have Jannik as No. 1. Normal, no, but he’s doing unbelievable things. I think he lost three matches this year, so it’s unbelievable to have him in that position. I think it helps all the movement behind it.
“Now we have many, many players that are doing really, really well, apart from Sinner.”

As it currently stands, Italy has nine men in the ATP top 100 and another five in the women’s top 100. The country also has a series of promising youngsters rising up the ranks. 

As for Musetti’s chances of matching Paolini’s run by reaching the final, he faces a tough task. He will next take on Novak Djokovic who is bidding to win a record-equalling eighth title at SW19. It will be the seventh meeting between the two with Musetti only winning one of their previous encounters on the clay. 

“Lorenzo is a really nice guy,” said Paolini. 
“I’m so happy for him. He has a huge talent. I think really good person. Hopefully, he can play a good match.”

This year’s Wimbledon featured three Italians in the singles quarter-finals (including Sinner who lost to Daniil Medvedev) for the first time in history. 

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‘It’s Tough To Be Positive’ – Tearful Donna Vekic On Wimbledon Exit

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Donna Vekic - Wimbledon 2024 (foto X @WTA)

Donna Vekic felt like she was ‘going to die’ during the third set of her record-breaking match against Jasmine Paolini at Wimbledon on Thursday. 

The Croat narrowly missed out on a place in her first Grand Slam final after losing 10-8 to Paolini in the decisive tiebreaker. Vekic battled on the court for two hours and 51 minutes in what was the longest women’s semi-final match to ever take place at SW19. After taking the first set, she got broken when down 4-5 in the second and then failed to maintain a 3-1 advantage in the decider. 

Thursday’s defeat is a bitter pill for Vekic to swallow who was visibly emotional during her press conference.

“I believed that I could win until the end. She played some amazing tennis. All congrats to her. She definitely deserved it.” She said. 
“She doesn’t have the best serve, but she’s serving well enough. I felt like also in the third set she was returning well.”

During stages of the match, Vekic looked weary on the court and was shaking her right arm at one stage, which was presumably due to cramping. Five out of her six matches played at the tournament had gone the full distance. The only exception was her second round clash against Erika Andreeva. 

“I thought I was going to die in the third set. I had so much pain in my arm, in my leg. It was not easy out there, but I will recover.” She said. 
“I was more crying because I had so much pain, I didn’t know how I could keep playing.”

Still, there are plenty of positives to draw from the grass swing for Vekic during what has been a roller-coaster season. At one stage of this year she failed to win back-to-back matches at five consecutive tournaments. But on the grass, she has faired better with a run to the final in Bad Homburg before Wimbledon.

However, with the defeat still fresh in her mind, it is tough for the world No.37 to look on the bright side at the moment.

“My team tells me that I can be proud of myself. It’s tough right now. It’s tough. I will need to take a couple of days to see everything.” She explains.
“It’s tough to be positive right now. It was so close. I had a lot of chances.”

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