WTA Washington, DC: Coco Gauff Reaches First Singles Final Since January
Just last month, Coco Gauff lost in the first round of Wimbledon. Frustrating? Yes. Demoralizing? No way. This week, at her next tournament back, the Mubadala Citi DC Open, Gauff has been airtight and is now in the final of a Hologic WTA Tour event for the first time since a January title run in Auckland. Aided by the new coaching team of Pere Riba and Brad Gilbert, showing what she called “external focus,” Gauff has won all three of her matches without the loss of a set. Most notable: Friday’s quarterfinal 6-1, 6-2 victory versus Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic, followed up Saturday with a 6-3, 6-3 win over defending champion Liudmila Samsonova. Well aware that Samsonova has one of the best serves in the game, Gauff stood further back to receive (a textbook Gilbert tactic) and won a sparkling 64 percent of Samsonova’s second serve points.
Here’s another Gilbert data point. In 1994, coaching Andre Agassi at their first tournament together in Miami, Gilbert helped him reach the final. In 2003, Gilbert started with Andy Roddick, their debut week capped off by a title run at Queens (including a win over Agassi in the semis). Now, 20 years later, Gilbert begins with Gauff and here again, a trip to a final. Whoever Gilbert commences work with in 2043 should set aside appropriate shelf space.
Gauff’s opponent is ninth-ranked Maria Sakkari, who won a rollercoaster of a match versus Jessica Pegula. Ahead 6-3, 4-1, Sakkari dropped five straight games but ended up taking the third set, 6-2. With Sakkari having won four of their five matches, it will be interesting to see what tactical wrinkles Gauff and the Riba-Gilbert team concoct.
WTA Montréal: Big Hitters and Other Hopefuls Keen to Get Into Main Draw
Pro tennis these days is so filled with depth that the qualifying rounds of an event often feature familiar names. That’s the case this Sunday in Montréal at the Omnium Banque Nationale presente par Rogers, a Hologic WTA Tour 1000 event with a main draw of 56 players—including eight openings for qualifiers.
Sunday marks the final day of qualifying. It’s a great chance to witness players right on the edge as they seek to cross the line into a week of reasonable money and, arguably more importantly, those precious ranking points.
Two of the WTA’s hardest hitters take the court Sunday. In January ’22, Danielle Collins advanced to the finals of the Australian Open and by July had reached a career high of seven in the world. A knee injury has hindered Collins this year and she’s now ranked No. 49. On Saturday, Collins beat ’14 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard by the rare score of 6-1, 1-6, 6-1. To get into the main draw, Collins will need to beat fellow American, Emina Bektas, who just last month, at the age of 30, attained a career high ranking of 129. These two have never played one another.
Then there’s the remarkably powerful and baffling Camila Giorgi. Two years ago, Giorgi won this tournament, along the way beating five top 30 players. She was ranked No. 71 then and is now 20 spots higher. But Giorgi is that rare player for whom ranking is a highly inaccurate gauge, a function of an incredible brand of streakiness that can surface even from point to point. Giorgi’s final opponent in qualifying will be Ashlyn Krueger, an American ranked No. 124. This too is a first-time encounter.
In addition to Collins, Bektas, and Krueger, five other Americans are in action on Sunday: No. 121 Elizabeth Mandlik (daughter of Hall of Famer Hana Mandlikova), No. 40 Alycia Parks, ’22 NCAA singles winner Peyton Stearns, and 2016 US Open junior champion Kayla Day versus veteran Sachia Vickery.