Coco Gauff: How the 17-year-old made history at the Emilia-Romagna Open

Coco Gauff

Coco Gauff has made history by becoming the first woman to win the Emilia-Romagna Open. The 17-year-old scooped the singles title along with the doubles trophy thanks to her efforts with partner Caty McNally.

Rising star Gauff secured her second WTA title after beating 29-year-old Wang Qiang 6-1, 6-3 in the final. Here’s a recap of how the teenager stormed to victory in Parma.

Round of 32 vs Kaia Kanepi 

Despite being ranked higher than her opponent at this stage, Gauff’s stats show that she was the underdog in terms of performance. The American’s service and return numbers were all lower than Kaia Kanepi’s, despite coming out on top with a close 7-6, 7-6 win.

Gauff won less serve points than her rival and converted 36.4 percent break points compared to Kanepi’s 40 percent. However, she served an impressive six aces to her opponent’s three and managed to come out on top with 51.2 percent of the points won.

Round of 16 vs Camila Giorgi 

The following round was a landslide win for Gauff, who dominated against world number 83 Camila Giorgi. The Italian won just 57.6 percent of her first serve points, whereas the eventual Emilia-Romagna champion won 81.3 percent of hers. Similarly, Gauff controlled the match by winning 42.4 percent first return points compared to Giorgi’s 18.8 percent.

The victory would see Gauff go on to face fellow USA native Amanda Anisimova in the quarter-final.

Coco Gauff

Quarter-final vs Amanda Anisimova

Fellow teenager and American Anisimova gave Gauff a more evenly matched competition in the quarters. The 19-year-old had previously beaten the No.3 seed at junior level in the 2017 US Open girls’ singles final. However, this time round, Gauff would turn the tables in all-teenage clash in Parma.

She beat Anisimova 6-3, 6-3 after an hour and 20 minutes of time on the court. Despite the older of the two having the upper hand on numerous occasions, Gauff pulled back the points to ensure it was her with the one-way ticket into the semi-final.

“In the second set, I was actually missing a lot of balls in the first three games, I think I lost like seven or eight points in a row,” Gauff said of her performance. “And then I honestly decided to go for bigger targets, and just focus on hitting the ball deeper instead of trying to hit winners.”

Semi-final vs Katerina Siniakova

This match was a thrilling one – in true WTA semi-final fashion. Gauff needed three sets to bank her place in the last round of the Emilia-Romagna Open, following a tense back-and-forth between her and Katerina Siniakova. 

The Czech really pushed the teenager to her limits, with the tie eventually ending with 7-5, 1-6, 6-2 in Gauff’s favour. The 25-year-old, who is a former doubles world number one, utilised her all-court skills and reflexes to heap the pressure on her opponent. Luckily, Gauff hit back and managed to regain momentum and seize control of the match.

She described world number 68 Siniakova as a “tricky player” who really made her work for the victory. 

“To be honest, I just kind of hung in there, and although in the second set my level went down a little bit, I was glad that I was able to pick it up for the third,” Gauff admitted.

Final vs Wang Qiang

With both Gauff and Wang winning their respective semi-final meetings, they achieved a new career milestone, as neither had ever reached a WTA clay-court final before.

The two locked horns at the last hurdle in Parma, before a comfortable 6-1, 6-3 win in Gauff’s favour. The American secured her first ever clay-court singles title and second overall in her professional career.

Gauff served many aces throughout the Emilia-Romagna Open, but failed to register a single one against Wang in the final. However, she stood strong and saved 100 percent of her break points, as well as notching a healthy 50 percent across the board for all her return statistics.

After becoming the first woman to win a singles title in the tournament, Gauff went on to partner McNally in taking home the doubles title as well. She will now shift her attention to the French Open on May 30th as she vies for her first ever Grand Slam title.

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