15-year-old American Coco Gauff became the youngest player to qualify for the Championships in the Open Era with a 6-1 6-1 win over Belgian Greet Minnen.
Gauff received an entry into the qualifying draw via a wild card. In her opening round match, she defeated #1 seed Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov, who reached the fourth round at Roland Garros. Bolsova didn’t have much grass experience heading into the match, but Gauff took full advantage.
In the second round of qualifying, Gauff defeated Russian Valentyna Ivankhnenko. Gauff’s power game was on display, winning 93% of points on her first serve, and she didn’t face a break point the whole match.
With a chance of reaching the main draw at a Grand Slam for the first time in her career, Gauff didn’t let the moment get the best of her defeating the more experienced Greet Minnen handily.
It’s no surprise that Gauff’s game translates well to the grass. If you’ve never seen her play before, you’d be shocked that a player can produce groundstrokes with that kind of power at her age. Last year at this time, Gauff won an ITF juniors event in Roehampton, where Wimbledon qualifying is held. She defeated fellow American Caty Mcnally, who also came through qualifying Thursday.
Gauff, who draws inspiration from the Williams sisters, couldn’t hold back her excitement in her post-match interview, saying, “I think my first memory was watching Serena play Wimbledon.”
With so much controversy over wild cards in tennis, it’s nice that Gauff was able to “earn” her way into the main draw at the All-England Club. Right now Gauff is a little outside the top 300 in the world, but don’t be surprised if she rises through the rankings during the US hard court swing.
Even though her WTA main draw experience is minimal, if she keeps up her level from qualifying, she can make a run with the right draw. Earlier this year in Miami, Gauff recorded her first main draw win on the WTA tour as a wild card over Caty Mcnally, who also got in with a wild card. She seemed a little overmatched in her second-round loss to Daria Kasatkina, but I think it’s all just a part of the learning process for the future star.
The nerves will certainly be there for Gauff when she takes the court to make her Grand Slam main draw debut. As we’ve seen so far, not much fazes the rising star from South Florida, so it will be interesting to see how she performs on the biggest stage in tennis.
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