Emma Navarro Shocks World Number Two Gauff - UBITENNIS
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Emma Navarro Shocks World Number Two Gauff

Women’s draw wide open as Second seed exits

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World number 17 Emma Navarro shocked US Open champion Coco Gauff with a straight-sets 6-4, 6-3 victory in the all-American clash on Centre court this evening – and blew the women’s draw wide open following top seed Iga Swiatek’s defeat yesterday.

Navarro’s solid performance included ten winners and having never won a match on grass before this year’s tournament, she converted three of her four breakpoints to reach her first grand slam quarter final of her career.

“I don’t have a ton of words,” said Navarro on court afterwards, “I am really grateful to be out here on Centre court, a tournament with so much history and tradition and so many legends have played on before me. It’s a real honour. Thanks to you guys for coming to watch and I can’t wait to play again.”

Gauff’s defeat again raises questions about her grass court credentials having never been past the fourth round here, but making the semi-finals or better at the other Grand Slams. This year’s tournament was a glorious opportunity for her with third round defeats for two-time finalist Ons Jabeur and top seed Swiatek, as well as World number three Aryna Sabalenka being sidelined for this year’s event. 

Navarro went a break down in the opening set but broke back for 3-3 when a Gauff backhand sailed long. She held serve and applied scoreboard pressure at 5-4 up, and took the set with a beautiful forehand pass on her second set point. She also won all seven net approaches during the set. She carried the momentum into the second set breaking early for a 2-1 lead and continued playing positively from the baseline.

“I think I played really aggressively,” said Navarro about her gameplan. “Coco is obviously an amazing player and I have a ton of respect for her and what she’s done at such a young age is really amazing, and I knew she wasn’t going to make it easy for me tonight. I wanted to play aggressively and push back against her game and I think I was able to do that.”

Navarro won the contest when Gauff hit her final forehand into the net, and the 19th seed admitted she is loving her experience of playing on Centre court, having also beat Naomi Osaka in the second round. “It’s an amazing court, probably my favourite court I’ve ever played on. The fans, the atmosphere, the grass is amazing, having my family and my team watch me, it’s amazing. Thank you, guys.”

Navarro now goes on to face Roland Garros finalist Jasmine Paolini, and although she has beaten her on both of their meetings, she was wary of the upcoming challenge and that she would have to play her best again. “She’s a great player, she’s not an easy out, and always puts up a great fight till the end, so I think it’s going to be a great match and I’m really excited.”

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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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