Serena Williams: Coco can win Wimbledon and Barty is a force to be reckoned with

By Sports Desk July 06, 2019

Serena Williams sang the praises of Cori 'Coco' Gauff and Ashleigh Barty as she assessed the credentials of two players who could deny her a record-tying 24th grand slam title next weekend.

Seven-time Wimbledon champion Williams was an impressive 6-3 6-4 winner against Germany's Julia Goerges on No. 1 Court on Saturday, setting up a last-16 clash with Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, who beat Lauren Davis.

The 37-year-old American superstar could face world number one Barty in the quarter-finals, while Gauff - who Williams says is "totally capable" of winning the title at the age of 15 - is on the opposite side of the draw.

Williams labelled Australian Barty a "beautiful player" with "great technique" and added: "She's just someone in the locker room that you just always root for.

"But in general I have been watching her game because I know that she's a force to be reckoned with. So I've been watching a lot."

Barty trounced British player Harriet Dart 6-1 6-1 on Centre Court and will face American Alison Riske next. Riske, ranked 55th, beat Swiss 13th seed Belinda Bencic in three sets.

Williams says Gauff is equipped to achieve more success at Wimbledon, with the world number 313 to play Simona Halep next.

"I think there's some 15-year-olds, like me, who wouldn't know what to do at Wimbledon," Williams said. "Then you have a 15-year-old like Coco who knows what to do. I think she's definitely on a different level, so I think she's totally capable and ready."

Fourth seed Kiki Bertens was the biggest casualty of the day, the Dutch player sliding to a 7-5 6-1 defeat at the hands of experienced Barbora Strycova.

Fellow Czech Petra Kvitova raced to a 6-3 6-2 win against Poland's Magda Linette, Britain's Johanna Konta ground out a 3-6 6-4 6-1 victory over US ninth seed Sloane Stephens, and Belgian Elise Mertens dug in for a 6-2 6-7 (9-11) 6-4 success against Wang Qiang of China.

FOREARM FOREWARNING

Kvitova looks to have made untroubled progress through to the second week, and the two-time Wimbledon champion is happy with her form.

But the 29-year-old has warned her campaign could end at any moment and it may have nothing to do with an opponent.

She began the tournament saying she had "no pain" in her left arm after several days of practice, but a tear forced her to pull out of the French Open and Kvitova is wary of the problem possibly returning.

"As I mentioned already many times before, the pain can come in the forearm and I have to retire," she said.

"Now my mind is more focusing on the arm than maybe on the tennis. It's a bit difficult in the practices before, my arm just getting tighter. I just felt it. I couldn't really hit it.

"I'm always worried about the scenarios that's come in the match. So far it's okay."

ENJOYING A PINCER THE ACTION

Did Barty intend to quote Sebastian, the crab from The Little Mermaid, in her press conference after beating Dart?

Asked about how she figures out how and when to play certain shots, Barty said: "I think for me sometimes I look at a shot, I play a shot, I think the seaweed is always greener in someone else's lake. I try and think of how else I can win the point."

The seaweed idiom is thought to have been coined for the 1989 animated Disney film, a subterranean take on the 'grass is always greener' notion.

COCO HAS A NEW SUPER-FAN - BUT SHE'S NOT A BFF YET

Gauff was only involved in doubles on Saturday, losing a mixed match with British partner Jay Clarke.

Yet she remains in demand and proved good value in her post-match news conference, thrilled to have picked up a new fan in the former United States First Lady Michelle Obama.

On Friday evening in the US, Obama tweeted: "Coco is terrific!"

"Yeah, I just saw the tweet," said 15-year-old Gauff, who will play in the singles fourth round on Monday. "We don't talk personally. I don't have her number or anything. I was super excited. She's one of my role models. So it was just cool to see that she knows I exist."

Related items

  • Australian Open 2020: Federer shrugs off concerns over 82 unforced errors in Millman classic Australian Open 2020: Federer shrugs off concerns over 82 unforced errors in Millman classic

    Roger Federer shrugged off questions about his high unforced error count after he survived a massive Australian Open scare from John Millman. 

    Federer appeared destined for a third-round exit when he fell behind 8-4 in the decisive match tie-break at the end of the fifth set.

    Millman had come from two sets to one down to move within two points of victory, but Federer rattled off six successive points to seal his 100th win at the Australian Open 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 4-6 7-6 (10-8) in four hours and three minutes.

    The 20-time grand slam champion prevailed despite hitting 82 unforced errors, 48 of them coming off the forehand side.

    Asked about that number in his post-match media conference, Federer replied: "I mean, honestly, nothing against the statistics people, but over a four-hour match you're going to hit unforced errors.

    "What is an unforced error? Is it when it comes at 120 [kilometres] an hour or 135 or you're on the stretch? So, for me, he pushed me to go for more.

    "You know me – I'm not going to hold back and just rally all the time. I will always try to make plays, and for that, I will miss some.

    "Of course, sometimes I wish I could have maybe hit a few more winners instead of unforced errors, but, you know, it shows how slow the courts can be, as well, you know, how many rallies get created, how he didn't serve and volley once.

    "I served and volleyed maybe what, 10 times? Five times? It's that crazy at these moments. When you can come in and you play serve and volley and, you know, volley errors don't count I don't think ever, and rally errors always count. So, there you go."

    Federer was effusive in his praise for Millman, who defeated the Swiss at the 2018 US Open.

    "I just think he's just so, so tough from the baseline. He's got sort of good speed on the backhand, on the forehand," added Federer when asked why Millman is such a tough opponent.

    "The way he hits it makes it, for me, unsure if I should pull the trigger or I shouldn't. Is it there to be hit or not? Every time I get a ball, I'm in two ways, because I have the option to do that with my game, but then he covers the court very well.

    "Because he hits it hard enough, maybe it's harder for me to find [an] angle. I think the biggest problem for me was just I wasn't able to get… I was not returning poorly, per se; I was just not getting into those neutral rallies, finding the ways to unlock him.

    "That's his credit. He's a great player. He's got great attitude, and that's why I mumbled something to him at the net just saying, 'I have so much respect for you, and it's such a pity, I'm so sorry, but well played', and all that stuff, because I really feel that way for John."

  • Australian Open 2020: Tsitsipas felt 'punched in the face' after Raonic shock Australian Open 2020: Tsitsipas felt 'punched in the face' after Raonic shock

    Stefanos Tsitsipas suffered a surprise Australian Open exit at the hands of Milos Raonic in the third round on Friday.

    The Greek was beaten in straight sets and managed not a single break point against the relentless power and precision of the Raonic serve.

    Roger Federer ensured his 100th match win at Melbourne Park was among his most memorable as he survived a gruelling five-set encounter with John Millman.

    The six-time champion remains on course for a semi-final against Novak Djokovic, who was ruthless in seeing off the challenge of Yoshihito Nishioka.

    Roberto Bautista Agut was edged out by Marin Cilic, and there were also wins for Diego Schwartzman, Marton Fucsovics, Tennys Sandgren and Fabio Fognini.

     

    RAONIC LEAVES TSITSIPAS REELING AS DJOKOVIC MARCHES ON

    There was a shock for sixth seed Tsitsipas, who simply had no answer to the serve and forehand of Raonic in a 7-5 6-4 7-6 (7-2) defeat.

    The 21-year-old struggled to make any inroads against the Raonic attack and was unable to muster even a solitary chance of a break against a player yet to drop serve in this year's tournament.

    "It's one shot that you can get knocked down all the time, and you're just there, getting punched in the face with one shot. You can't do much," Tsitsipas said of facing the Canadian.

    "I'm not saying it's luck. It's a skill. I felt a bit stupid returning his serves."

    Defending champion Djokovic was in imperious form, dispatching Nishioka 6-3 6-2 6-2 to keep his quest for an eighth title on track.

    Djokovic described the victory as "one of the best serving matches I've had lately" and credited coach Goran Ivanisevic after firing in 17 aces and dropping just eight points on serve to reach the second week in Melbourne for the 12th time.

    The Serbian now faces Schwartzman, who saw off Dusan Lajovic 6-2 6-3 7-6 (9-7).

    TON UP FOR FEDERER AFTER TIE-BREAK TURNAROUND

    Federer's 100th win at the Australian Open was secured at 0048 local time after a marathon encounter with Millman.

    The 38-year-old triumphed 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 4-6 7-6 (10-8) after four hours and three minutes of brutal tennis against the Australian, who beat him at the US Open two years ago.

    Federer fought back from a set down to lead but, after Millman forced a decider, momentum seemed to have swung his way in front of a crowd for once not overwhelmingly backing the Swiss great.

    Millman led 3-0 and 8-4 in the final-set tie-break, but Federer rallied from the brink to earn the first match point and promptly took advantage when a Millman volley offered him a routine passing shot.

    "Oh God, it was tough," Federer told Jim Courier on court after the match. "Thank God it was a match tie-break, otherwise I would have lost this one."

    Federer will face Fucsovics in round four, the Hungarian having beaten Tommy Paul 6-1 6-1 6-4 in a one-sided match-up.

    CILIC OUTLASTS BAUTISTA AGUT AS SANDGREN QUELLS QUERRY

    Cilic, the beaten finalist in 2018, claimed a memorable 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 6-0 5-7 6-3 victory over ninth seed Bautista Agut to set up a fourth-round showdown with fellow serving heavyweight Raonic.

    An all-American clash went the way of Sandgren, meanwhile, as he beat Sam Querrey 6-4 6-4 6-4.

    Sandgren meets Fognini in round four, the Italian making relatively light work of Guido Pella in a 7-6 (7-0) 6-2 6-3 victory.

  • Australian Open 2020: Federer fends off Millman in epic 100th win Australian Open 2020: Federer fends off Millman in epic 100th win

    Roger Federer produced a dramatic late comeback in a fifth-set tie-break to survive a huge scare from John Millman and progress to the fourth round of the Australian Open.

    Day five had already seen Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Stefanos Tsitsipas dealt shock defeats, and there looked to be another in store as Millman surged into an 8-4 lead in the final-set tie-break having been two sets to one down.

    Recent history was also on the side of Millman, who defeated Federer in the 2018 US Open, while the 20-time grand slam champion went into Friday's encounter having lost his previous three five-set matches.

    However, Federer somehow reeled off six successive points, a stunning forehand pass securing a 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 4-6 7-6 (10-8) win that marked his 100th at Melbourne Park and booked a last-16 clash with Marton Fucsovics.

    The first set the tone for an uncharacteristically error-strewn performance from Federer.

    He committed 14 unforced errors in the opener, and a double fault followed by a wayward forehand gifted Millman the early lead.

    Millman faced the only break point of the second, but it was vintage Federer in the subsequent tie-break, the Swiss masterful in equal measure at the baseline and the net as he raced into a decisive 6-1 lead.

    The third followed a markedly similar pattern with Federer finding no way through the Millman resistance. That was until the 10th game, when the Queenslander's composure cracked and he pushed long to seemingly give Federer control of the match.

    But even as the errors crept into his game, Millman displayed a remarkable ability to trade blows with Federer in the longer exchanges and he brought up break point with a superb return before winning a tremendous rally that ended with the Swiss sending a forehand into the net.

    Federer was 30-0 ahead in the subsequent game, only for four successive errors to allow Millman to hold, with a love hold then sending an absorbing contest to a fifth.

    Another unforced error gave Millman the initiative in the decider and, though he gave the break back and squandered a pair of break points at 3-3, the home hope appeared on course to repeat his 2018 achievement in the tie-break.

    Indeed, it was Millman who seemed to have the most left in the tank, and an astonishing cross-court pass put him within two points of victory.

    Federer, though, is still capable of defying the odds at the age of 38, and he delivered a reminder that he should never be counted out with an emphatic response that capped an epic of four hours and three minutes in fitting fashion, his forehand passing shot making the most of an indecisive Millman volley.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.