The Complete Player: Emma Navarro - UBITENNIS
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The Complete Player: Emma Navarro



Is Emma Navarro possibly the most complete player in women’s tennis?

It’s beginning to look like that’s a possibility. It might take a few months or a year or so to secure that image.

But Emma Navarro has been a fast mover among the WTA pros since joining them just over two years ago.


Why is Navarro possibly the tour’s most complete player? All you have to do to consider that possibility is to look at her dominance of Coco Gauff in a straight-set victory over the world’s No. 2 player in Wimbledon’s round of 16.

Navarro is quick, talented and fast, but not lightning fast. She just covers the court better than most of the top players. It’s all about her technique and movement on the court. She covers the court like a blanket.

And she goes for winners most of the time when she arrives on the ball. It was difficult for even the power-hitting Gauff to hit a winner against Navarro.


Navarro hits backhands and forehands with total precision and power, seldom committing errors. She hits great drop shots as if she’s been taking lessons from Carlos Alcaraz.

An opponent has to be sure not to put the ball in the air going for an easy winner. Navarro hits solid overheads with power, seldom missing one.

Against Gauff, Navarro even leaped in the air going away from the net and delivered an impressive backwards volley. 

About the only place Navarro can improve might be her serve, although she seldom double-faults and has solid placement. Bigger serves might help her to win points quicker, but her serve was working just fine against Gauff as she actually had a better day serving than the powerful Gauff.


Navarro is a thinking star. Her secret against Gauff was mixing up her serves and keeping Gauff off balance most of the match.

There doesn’t seem to be any one area of Navarro’s game that’s vulnerable.

I can remember all the years when Navarro was a standout junior, actually winning a Junior French Open doubles title with long-time partner Chloe Beck in 2019, and also being a singles finalist at that event.

At the time, I covered tennis for the Charleston newspaper, and I depended heavily on Navarro’s thorough reports on her out-of-town matches. As for her local matches at her father’s LTP Tennis facility in Mount Pleasant, S.C., I didn’t need to interview Navarro. She provided her own critiques of her matches for my recorder. I readily accepted them.


Navarro looked like a star of the future even then. And she’s been a rising star since.

Since the start of 2023, she has risen 126 places in the WTA rankings to No. 17 in the world, and the 23-year-old now owns a live ranking of No. 14 as a result of her quarterfinal berth at Wimbledon.

Of course, she could climb much higher with the big ranking points that could be hers in the next week.

After Navarro’s 6-4, 6-3 win over Gauff in 74 minutes in Sunday’s round of 16 and the collapse of eight of the world’s top 10 players, Navarro appears to have as much of a chance to win a Wimbledon title as anyone left in the women’s draw.

Current No. 4 Elena Rybakina and No. 7 Jasmine Paolini are the only top 10 women left at Wimbledon, and Paolini will be Navarro’s quarterfinal opponent.

If Navarro’s stardom continues to sparkle as it did against former Grand Slam winners Gauff and Naomi Osaka, the rest of Wimbledon could be one big shining moment for Emma Navarro.

She’s a star now!

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 

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Jasmine Paolini Looks Great, But Krejcikova Is Next At Wimbledon



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.


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.


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?


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 

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



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



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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