Iga Swiatek is through to the Italian Open final for the third time after seeing off Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-3 on Thursday.

There was little to separate the two in the opening 50 minutes as they played to 4-4 before Gauff left an opening with back-to-back double faults, and Swiatek took full advantage.

The world number one broke Gauff’s serve four times, including in the fifth game of the second set to swing the momentum firmly in her favour after one hour 48 minutes on the court.

Swiatek has now reached back-to-back WTA 1000 finals after winning the Madrid Open earlier this month and could face Aryna Sabalenka for the title once more if the Belarusian gets past Danielle Collins in the other semi-final.

Data Debrief: Unstoppable on clay

Swiatek has now won 11 consecutive matches, and registered her 10th victory over Gauff in 11 meetings between the two - she has won all four matches against the American on clay. 

Since the format’s introduction in 2009, Swiatek (40 per cent, 12/30) holds the highest percentage of finals reached from WTA-1000 main draws entered. Serena Williams (36.7 per cent, 18/49) is the next best in the format's history.

Since the WTA rankings were first published in 1975, Swiatek has become only the third player to reach multiple Italian Open finals as the WTA's number one, along with Serena Williams (three) and Monica Seles (two). She will be looking for her third Italian Open title on Saturday.

Coco Gauff will have the chance to down world number one Iga Swiatek after progressing to the Italian Open semi-finals with Tuesday's victory over Qinwen Zheng.

The 20-year-old breezed into the last-four draw in Rome after her straight-sets victory over Zheng, winning 7-6 (7-4) 6-1.

Gauff faced just one break point throughout the match, failing to hold her serve at 5-3 up as seven-seed Zhen battled back in the first set.

Yet Gauff eased through the tie-break and never looked back from there on, teeing up a meeting with Swiatek, who overcame Madison Keys in straight sets in her quarter-final clash.

Data Debrief: Young Gauff powers on

No player has won more matches than Gauff (61) in WTA-1000 events before turning 21, since the introduction of the format in 2009, as the American moved past Caroline Wozniacki (60) with victory here.

Wozniacki (eight) is also the only player to manage more WTA-1000 semi-final appearances before her 21th birthday, with Gauff's last-four qualification here taking her onto six – one ahead of Swiatek.

Coco Gauff believes winning a medal at the forthcoming Paris Olympics would be "equal" to winning a Grand Slam.

The world number three was forced to miss the Games in Tokyo three years ago after testing positive for COVID-19, and is eager to sample the "once-in-a-lifetime experience".

The tennis events will be played on the clay of Roland Garros, where Gauff will be bidding for a second major title at the French Open later this month.

And the reigning US Open champion is looking forward to competing, though she admits her preparations will be unprecedented.

"For me, the Olympics is a top priority. I'd say equal to the Grand Slams," Gauff told reporters at the Italian Open, where she will face Magdalena Frech in the last 64.

"I wouldn't put it above or below just because I've never played before. This is my first time. Obviously, I always want to do well, try to get a medal. But the preparation is going to be interesting, because I've never done the grass to clay transition before.

"I'm not putting too much pressure on it because I really want to fully indulge in the experience. Hopefully, I can have it many times in my lifetime. I'll treat it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Before that, Gauff is focused on getting ready for the French Open, where she was runner-up to world number one Iga Swiatek two years ago.

The 20-year-old will step up her preparation at the Italian Open this week, aiming to build on her run to the round of 16 at the Madrid Open last time out, where her run was ended by compatriot Madison Keys.

"For me, it's just about serving better than I did last week," she added. "I feel the other parts of my game are improving. If I can work that through, I think it'll set me up for a very good Roland Garros."

Madison Keys is through to the quarter-final of the Madrid Open for the first time in her career after rallying to a 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-4 win over Coco Gauff on Monday.

The 29-year-old trailed 5-2 in the first set and 4-2 in the third set but rallied in both to come from behind to beat the number three seed.

Despite winning the second set, Gauff struggled to find her rhythm, suffering from 13 double faults, including two in the final game.

Keys will face former Madrid Open champion Ons Jabeur for a spot in the semi-final after the number eight seed overcame Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets.

Data debrief: Keys reaches new milestone

Having lost in the first round in seven of her nine previous trips to the Spanish capital, Keys has now bettered her previous best finish in Madrid - a third-round showing in 2016.

Keys hadn't won three matches in a row since reaching the US Open semifinals last year.

Madison Keys is through to the quarter-final of the Madrid Open for the first time in her career after rallying to a 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-4 win over Coco Gauff on Monday.

The 29-year-old trailed 5-2 in the first set and 4-2 in the third set but rallied in both to come from behind to beat the number three seed.

Despite winning the second set, Gauff struggled to find her rhythm, suffering from 13 double faults, including two in the final game.

Keys will face former Madrid Open champion Ons Jabeur for a spot in the semi-final after the number eight seed overcame Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets.

Data debrief: Keys reaches new milestone

Having lost in the first round in seven of her nine previous trips to the Spanish capital, Keys has now bettered her previous best finish in Madrid - a third-round showing in 2016.

Keys hadn't won three matches in a row since reaching the US Open semifinals last year.

Coco Gauff made a flying start to her Madrid Open campaign on Thursday, recording the first double bagel main-draw win of her career as she cruised past Arantxa Rus to reach the round of 32.

Gauff needed just 51 minutes to see off 33-year-old Rus as she booked a meeting with Ukraine's Dayana Yamstremska for Saturday. 

The US Open champion lost just 18 points throughout the match – eight in the opener and 10 in the second set – as she put any doubts over her recent form to bed in emphatic fashion.

Gauff's power proved too much for Rus in the opener, the third seed winning 88 per cent of points behind her first serve and converting three of four break points to go a set up in just 23 minutes.

Rus brought up four break points midway through the second set, but when she failed to convert them, Gauff punished her in ruthless fashion by reeling off another three games then finishing things with a terrific forehand winner. 

Speaking after her win, the American said: "I played really well today. It was just one of those days for me… 6-0 6-0, I've never done that before, I'll probably never do it again."

Data Debrief: Gauff matches Azarenka, Halep feat

Gauff is just the third player to register a 6-0 6-0 win in the women's singles draw at the Madrid Open, following in the footsteps of two former world number ones in Victoria Azarenka and Simona Halep.

The American, who only turned 20 last month, is also the youngest player to double bagel an opponent in any main-draw match on the WTA Tour since Iga Swiatek did so against Karolina Pliskova in the 2021 Italian Open final in Rome. 

Coco Gauff's emergence as arguably the biggest star of American tennis since Serena Williams is great for the women's game, says former British number one Laura Robson.

Gauff captured the imagination of the American public by winning the US Open last September, the 19-year-old fighting back to beat Aryna Sabalenka in a memorable final at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

That made the teenager the first American – male or female – to win the tournament since Williams, who won the event for the sixth time in 2014. Gauff, Williams and her sister Venus are the only American women to claim the trophy in the 21st century.

Gauff will look to back up that success at the Australian Open when the first major of the year begins on Sunday, and Robson is delighted to see her thriving after being criticised earlier in 2023.

"I love what she's done in the last three months in particular, because over the clay courts and the grass-court season, everyone was writing her off," Robson told Stats Perform.

"She just went back to the drawing board, got a new team around her, played unbelievably at the Cincinnati Masters and came into the US Open with confidence. 

"You could tell, with the way that she played the longer matches, she just felt so good about her game. You could see how she was moving out there. 

"She is definitely the fastest out on tour at the moment on the women's side. I'm just super pumped for her. 

"To be in the stadium and to feel the energy when she won the US Open was crazy.

"I'd say 99.99 per cent of the stadium was going for her and it's going to be a huge boost for women's tennis to have an American superstar like her."

Asked whether Gauff was the natural successor to Williams – who finished her glittering career one major title shy of Margaret Court's record of 24 – Robson said other players' efforts to push American tennis forward should not be overlooked.

"I definitely feel like Jessica Pegula and Madison keys and people like that don't quite get enough credit for how much they've pushed American tennis," Robson continued. 

"Even going into the US Open, Pegula was the number one American, but Coco definitely had more attention on her, which is great because their different profiles are being raised, but at the same time they were still pushing each other along and playing doubles together almost every week. 

"It's just fantastic to see and the fact that there's now another name that you're throwing into the mix just makes everyone feel better."

Gauff currently sits a career-high third in the world rankings, though she has plenty of ground to make up on the top two, with Iga Swiatek currently edging out Sabalenka. 

Robson expects that duo to trade places often as they battle to dominate the women's game, saying: "You definitely struggle to see Swiatek losing at Roland Garros, with the way that she goes on clay.

"I think it's going to be quite nice because they each have different strengths. You would almost say Sabalenka goes slightly better on a hard court and Iga is better on clay.

"I can see it almost swapping back and forth over the next few years, but Iga is going to be right in there, for sure."

Coco Gauff has every chance of adding to her 2023 US Open triumph by winning further grand slam titles in the coming years.

That is the view of former world number four Johanna Konta, who also believes it is "only a matter of time" before the American rises to the top of the WTA rankings.

Having lost the French Open final to Iga Swiatek as an 18-year-old in 2022, Gauff went one step further on home soil last September, becoming the first American teenager to win the US Open title since Serena Williams in 1999.

Gauff is looking to add to that triumph when the Australian Open begins on Sunday, and she is considered one of the favourites to claim the trophy after making a flying start to 2024.

The teenager captured her second straight Auckland Classic title on Sunday, fighting back to beat Elina Svitolina and make it seven wins from eight tour-level singles finals in her career.

Konta believes last year's US Open victory was just the start for Gauff, telling Stats Perform: "She's already a grand slam champion. So, she's got every possibility to win multiple grand slams. 

"Once you're winning those tournaments, then it's only a matter of time before you get to world number one."

Gauff is up to third in the world rankings – the highest position of her career – though she has work to do to overhaul world number one Swiatek, who has won three of the last seven grand slams and is targeting her first Australian Open success after going out in the fourth round last year.

Konta, who failed to win a major during her own career despite reaching the last four at Melbourne Park, Roland Garros and Wimbledon, thinks the 22-year-old will be a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future. 

"I think she's an incredibly consistent player, the level is just very consistent," Konta said of Swiatek.

"I think she will be one of the ones that will be there for a long time if she's just able to sustain that. I think she'll be one of the top handful."

Claressa Shields believes Savannah Marshall's move into mixed martial arts is good for women's sport and wishes her rival well, despite the "love-hate" relationship between the duo.

Unified middleweight champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist Shields, one of the biggest names in women's boxing, made her MMA debut in 2021 after signing with the Professional Fighters League (PFL), where she has a 1-1 record.

British boxer Marshall, Shields' long-term rival who beat the American as an amateur in 2012 before losing by unanimous decision when they met last year, signed with the PFL last week.

Marshall then declared her intention to face Shields in her new discipline, saying: "It doesn't look like a rematch in the ring is coming off, so I've had to chase her into another sport."

There has been no love lost between the fighters in the past, with Shields calling Marshall "delusional" and "disrespectful" after the Brit called for a rematch earlier this year.

While Shields initially had misgivings over Marshall's MMA switch, she believes the move will benefit the sport and even claims to have offered her rival tips to aid her transition. 

"Any time I fight Savannah Marshall is a good time for me," Shields told Stats Perform. "Whether it's in boxing for the rematch or in MMA. I mean, if she wanted to go the track and race, I am down for it!

"The satisfaction of beating her makes me very happy. I have a love-hate relationship with Savannah. I love that she's a competitor. I love that we had our experiences together. 

"She keeps mentioning the amateur loss, but it was, what, 11 years ago? Other than that, I think it was very clever and very inspiring for her to come and sign with the PFL. 

"When I heard about it, [I thought], 'man, she is just obsessed with me'. But [then] I asked her, 'why are you here?' 

"She was like, 'I want to fight you in a cage, and I want to be bigger in boxing too. I want to build my brand'. 

"Hearing her say those things… It's like, now you're on the same mental that I'm on, because I've been doing this and I've been saying this.

"We both agree that women's boxing is big but it's not as big as women's MMA and we get paid more in MMA, [with] equal TV time, equal fight time, equal promotion. 

"There's just way more eyes on us and we can get the bang for our buck. So, the fact that she came over here, I thought it was a good move. 

"We can still do our fight in boxing for the rematch, and we can still fight in the cage. When we're done, they're going to writing like documentaries and stuff about our beef! 

"But I don't have beef with her right now. I will save that for when she's my opponent again. Right now, I just wish her well. I even gave her some tips. Boxing and MMA, they are like apples and oranges. I just gave her a few tips on what I think she should do."

Asked about the development of women's sport in recent years, Shields hailed the progress already made but called for more female representation across sport's governing bodies.  

"Well women's sports right now are being viewed more than ever in today's time," She added. "I think we need the CEOs, the CFOs, the people in charge to just be equal and whatever you want to do, do it for the women. It's not that hard. 

"But people saying, 'the women need to do this or do that'… We're already doing everything that we're doing. It is the same as the men. 

"It's really about the people in charge making those financial decisions with their budgets and just being fair. We are working our way up there. 

"I'm a fan of the Olympics because I went and I just liked to see how women are represented on track and field, represented in boxing, represented in MMA, represented in soccer. 

"We are putting in our time, and Coco Gauff just won the [Cincinnati Open] trophy in tennis. Women's sports right now are really on an up and up and it's going to get better."

Sixth seed Coco Gauff slumped to a third-round exit at the hands Paula Badosa at the Madrid Open on Saturday, while Mirra Andreeva celebrated her 16th birthday by setting up a meeting with Aryna Sabalenka.

Badosa – the highest-ranked Spanish player in the women's draw – needed just 71 minutes to wrap up a 6-3 6-0 win over last year's Roland Garros runner-up, thrilling a supportive home crowd at the Manolo Santana Stadium.

Badosa edged a competitive start on the clay, with each of the first five games featuring break points, before the 25-year-old forced a series of errors from Gauff to take the opener.

The second set was far more straightforward, the error-prone Gauff rounding out the match by losing eight consecutive games to miss out on a spot in the last 16.

Gauff was not the only seed to be humbled on Saturday, with Caroline Garcia falling to a 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 loss in her meeting with Egypt's Mayar Sherif.

Sabalenka – the highest-ranked player in action on Saturday – enjoyed a more productive outing, however. 

She saw off a spirited challenge from Colombia's Camila Osorio to clinch a 6-4 7-5 victory, teeing up a last-16 meeting with surprise package Andreeva. 

Playing on her 16th birthday, wildcard Andreeva celebrated in style with a 6-3 6-3 win over Poland's Magda Linette, continuing a dream run which has also seen the Russian eliminate Leylah Fernandez and Beatriz Haddad Maia.

Aryna Sabalenka is through to the round of 32 at the Madrid Open after beating Sorana Cirstea 6-4 6-3 on Thursday.

It was an ominous start for Cirstea, being broken to love in the opening game, but she stuck with second seed Sabalenka and broke back, before ultimately being pipped to the first set by the impressive Belarusian.

The key was on break points, with Sabalenka claiming all five that she won against the Cirstea serve, while saving six of eight on her own as she ultimately eased to victory.

Sabalenka now has 26 wins on clay in the WTA since 2021, with only Ons Jabeur (37), Iga Swiatek (34), Paula Badosa (31) and Coco Gauff (28) having more during this time.

Gauff also advanced after a routine 6-4 6-1 win over Irene Burillo Escorihuela, making the sixth seed in Madrid the first player to win 35 WTA-1000 main draw matches as a teenager since 2009.

Ninth seed Maria Sakkari defeated Arantxa Rus 6-4 6-4 and fifth seed Caroline Garcia also had few problems against Yulia Putintseva, winning 6-3 6-4.

However, it was not a good day for 10th seed Petra Kvitova, who was beaten 7-6 (11-9) 6-1 by Jule Niemeier, while 13th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia also lost, 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 to Mirra Andreeva and 20th seed Donna Vekic was eliminated in straight-sets by Rebeka Masarova.

Jelena Ostapenko took just 61 minutes to get past Linda Fruhvirtova 6-0 6-3, and will face 14th seed Liudmila Samsonova next, who did not take much longer to see off Maryna Zanevska 6-2 6-3.

There were also wins for Elise Mertens, Badosa, Camila Osorio, Shelby Rogers, Mayar Sherif, Magda Linette and Irina-Camelia Begu.

Iga Swiatek is through to the quarter-finals of the Stuttgart Open after easing to a 6-1 6-4 win over Zheng Qinwen on her return from a rib injury.

Swiatek had not played since sustaining the issue in the semi-finals of Indian Wells over a month ago, but advanced on Thursday despite stating that she felt "rusty".

The world number one won 84 per cent of points after landing her first serve in as she made up for lost time.

Swiatek also forced eight break points, winning four of them as she took just and hour and 26 minutes to set up a quarter-final with Karolina Pliskova, who bested Donna Vekic in a thriller.

Pliskova looked to be on her way to a routine win as she claimed the first set 6-2, only for the Croatian to take the second via a tie-break.

The decider also went the distance, with Pliskova able to finally put Vekic away 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-5) to book her clash with Swiatek.

Coco Gauff perhaps paid the price for taking almost three hours to beat Veronika Kudermetova on Wednesday, as the fifth seed fell to a straight-sets loss to Anastasia Potapova on Thursday, going down 6-2 6-3.

Fourth seed Caroline Garcia will go up against Potapova next after she defeated Tatjana Maria 7-6 (7-5) 6-4, while Paula Badosa had few problems seeing off fellow Spaniard Cristina Bucsa 6-1 6-2 and will face second seed Aryna Sabalenka in the last eight.

Ons Jabeur forged a comeback win over Jelena Ostapenko to get her Stuttgart Open campaign off to a flying start.

Jabeur endured an injury-hit start to 2023 but bounced back with a victory in Charleston and made it six wins on the bounce by overcoming Latvian Ostapenko 1-6 7-6 6-3 on Wednesday.

Next up for Jabeur is a potential quarter-final tie with Elena Rybakina – a rematch of last year's Wimbledon final.

Rybakina, who won the Indian Wells Open in March, came up trumps on that occasion, fighting back to win 3-6 6-2 6–2.

The Kazakh, seeded sixth, overcame German Jule Niemeier 7-5 6-3 in the round of 32 and will now face Beatriz Haddad Maia in the last 16.

World number two Aryna Sabalenka also booked her progression to the last eight, beating 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova 6-2 6-3.

Coco Gauff, meanwhile, claimed her first victory in Stuttgart as she overcame a tough test from Veronika Kudermetova.

Gauff, the world number five, was taken to a deciding tie-break but ultimately prevailed 6-2 4-6 7-6 (7-3). The American will face Anastasia Potapova in the next round.

Former world number one Karolina Pliskova defeated Maria Sakkari in straight sets in Wednesday's other encounter.

 

 

Last week's Indian Wells Open champion Elena Rybakina has extended her winning streak to 10 matches after defeating Paula Badosa 3-6 7-5 6-3 in Saturday's Miami Open third round.

Kazakhstan's Rybakina, who is also the reigning Wimbledon Champion and Australian Open finalist, got the better of Badosa for the second time during her current run, also eliminating her from Indian Wells. 

The 23-year-old has to be considered one of the favourites to go all the way, having knocked off world number one Iga Swiatek and world number two Aryna Sabalenka to lift the trophy in California.

Rybakina will meet Belgium's Elise Mertens in the fourth round after she beat Croatia's Petra Martic 6-4 6-3.

Meanwhile, the biggest upset of the day was delivered by Russia's Anastasia Potapova, bouncing sixth seed Coco Gauff 6-7 (8-10) 7-5 6-2.

Potapova, who has never won a tournament above the WTA 250 level, will face China's Zheng Qinwen for a spot in the quarter-finals after her three-hour 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 triumph over Liudmila Samsonova.

Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko, the 24th seed, eliminated Brazilian 13th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-2 4-6 6-3, while 20th seed Magda Linette of Poland knocked out Belarusian 14th seed Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (7-3) 2-6 6-4.

Unseeded American Clare Liu went down 4-6 7-5 6-4 against Italy's Martina Trevisan, but third seed Jessica Pegula will continue to fly the flag for the United States after advancing 6-1 7-6 (7-0) in her all-American showdown with Danielle Collins.

Coco Gauff loves the inner "dog" in Jimmy Butler's basketball game and hopes the Miami Heat star saw plenty to admire about her own tenacity as she made a positive start at the Miami Open.

Winning 6-4 6-3 against Canadian Rebecca Marino got Gauff off the mark at this fortnight's WTA 1000 tournament, with the 19-year-old American very much at home in Florida.

Butler was watching at courtside, and the 33-year-old was so close Gauff could hardly ignore his presence.

"I mean, he was right next to my towels. I had no choice but to see him," Gauff said.

Gauff is a fan of the Heat, so to be watched by six-time NBA All-Star Butler was flattering for the teenager.

She is a high achiever herself, reaching the French Open final last year and setting up camp in the WTA top 10 rankings, so there was mutual respect, and the pair met up after Thursday's match.

"It was really cool because I love watching the Heat, they're my team. He has just that mentality, that dog in him, something that I really admire a lot," Gauff said. "I always do that when I'm on the court, but I was, like, I hope he sees that in me."

Gauff also spoke about having met players from the Buffalo Bills, the NFL franchise owned by world number three Jessica Pegula's parents.

"They might have been here for Jess, but I'm glad they stayed to watch my match," Gauff said.

Pegula beat Katherine Sebov in the match directly after Gauff's clash on the Stadium court.

Gauff said it was a "privilege" to be watched by fellow sports stars.

"I think it means more than maybe an actor or singer watching me, because it's like, as an athlete, finding the time to appreciate other sports is really hard," she said. "For them to want to do that, especially for a sport like tennis, which generally most of them don't understand, is really cool."

Gauff next faces Anastasia Potapova, the Russian player who beat Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk at the last-64 stage.

That match was notable largely for Kostyuk's refusal to shake hands afterwards with Potapova, a player who earlier this month was warned by the WTA for wearing a Spartak Moscow jersey at Indian Wells.

Russian and Belarusian players are competing under a neutral flag on the WTA Tour this season, amid the continuing invasion of Ukraine.

Page 1 of 11
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.