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Monfils and Tiafoe take center stage at AO

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By Jason Barron

Frances Tiafoe will have a tough task ahead of him playing in the Australian Open against Kevin Anderson. They played each other 3 times in 2018, with Anderson winning all 3. But, Tiafoe did take a set off him twice before. This will be the first best of 5 match that they have played, and a longer match could favor Tiafoe if he can outlast Anderson. Tiafoe has competed well against the 6th ranked Anderson in the past and should believe he has a chance going into the match.

The key will be to cut off the angles and attack on 2nd serves. Tiafoe can’t give Anderson a lot of time and space to whip in his serves or powerful groundstrokes. Tiafoe needs to make Anderson uncomfortable by moving him around the court and having him come to the net. If Tiafoe can utilize his speed and hit the corners he could counter Anderson’s big serves with superior all-around play. This would be a huge win for Tiafoe and get him get off to a great start in 2019.  

Gael Monfils will face Taylor Fritz in his 2nd match at the Australian Open. They have never played each other, but Monfils should get the win. Monfils has the advantage in experience, ability, and court movement. Fritz is a better server and could possibly overpower Monfils in rallies. Monfils will need to dictate the points and use his court movement to take advantage of a slower Fritz. Monfils has shown the ability in the past to beat big servers like Kevin Anderson and John Isner.

Fritz is a level below those players and Monfils should be able to take advantage and make him uncomfortable. If Monfils does beat Fritz he would likely face Roger Federer in his next match. That will be a monumental task to overcome, but it is sure to be an entertaining match with the creativity of both Monfils and Federer on display.

Both the Tiafoe-Anderson and Monfils-Fritz matches will be played on Tuesday, January 15th. Tune in on ESPN for continuing coverage of the Australian Open.

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Battle of the ages: Venus vs. CoCo

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By Editorial Team

In addition to becoming the youngest player to enter the main draw of Wimbledon via qualifying, Cori “CoCo” Gauff has earned a prim-time match-up against one of the greatest grass court players of all time in the first round of play.

This match is not only a first, but also a sharp contrast of current generation talent versus veteran grand slam champion. Venus just turned 39 this month and must now face the 15 year old dynamo that goes by CoCo making this a true battle of the ages. Ironically, as in a Hollywood movie, these two are respectively the oldest and youngest players in the tournament.

Venus can sure respect Cori’s hustle in advancing her career at the ripe age of 15. Venus shares a similar start, but was able to win 5 Wimbledon titles with the last win in 2008.

Coming off of a great 2017 season, Venus (unseeded this year) has struggled lately with injuries and fatigue late in matches. This year has not rolled out favorably for Venus after several on-off coaching relationships and hitting partners. Taking on a more independent role of seasoned veteran, Venus is going at it alone on tour. She has a strong management team in place, but they appear to be more assistants than highly experienced coaches giving her instruction.

In contrast, Cori has a tight-knit team around her not to mention her father as head coach. There have been several assistants offering advice, but Corey remains the largest influence on Cori’s progress.

Progress is exactly what they have made – and in short record time. Just last year Cori was making her way toward the Roehamption Championship title as the world’s number one ranked junior. It seems as if Cori has a trusting relationship with her Dad and is able to take constructive criticism in stride. Hard work has been Cori’s mantra since the beginning of her junior career, and that hard work and preparation has landed her here at Wimbledon with a main draw match against Venus Williams.

The odds heavily favor Venus, but nothing is out of the question for Cori. Given the fact that she has played each qualifying round with a “nothing to lose” attitude, it can only be assumed that she will continue to do the same in her first round match.

The big stage is also a factor as Cori has not played on such a large WTA Tour center court yet in her career. This will definitely be a learning experience for Cori. It may be a little ambitious to expect Cori to figure out the atmosphere and surroundings all within a 2 out of 3 match. Cori is undefeated at Roehamption (ITF Juniors and WTA Qualifying), but it remains to be seen if she can muster a win against a declining, but a still very capable Venus Williams on her favorite surface.

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