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Monfils plans for 1st win against Thiem in Roland Garros

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By Editorial Team

Gael Monfils has not dropped a set en route to the round of 16 of this year’s French Open Championships – easily disposing of Taro Daniel, Adrian Mannarino and Antonie Hoang all in three sets. The 14th seed must now take on a proven clay court specialist, Dominic Thiem.

The win/loss odds do not favor Gael, but he is playing such inspired tennis anything is possible in his home country of France. The crowd will definitely be edging him on every step of the way.

A history of withdraws has run its course as these two were scheduled to play each other seven times since 2015, but only four of these matches were actually played. The most recent withdrawal by Gael was this year in the BNP Open quarterfinals.

Since the onslaught of injuries, Gael has recovered nicely with fantastic results, a title win in Rotterdam and a nice boost back into the top-20 this season.

Gael appears to be healthy so it would be very disappointing for fans to see him pull out of this match with some crazy off-court injury.

Now its go-time after rolling through his section of the draw; Gael now must face his biggest challenge of the season – playing Dominic in a best of 5 set match on red clay.

Facing a similar test this season, Gael was able to defeat his long-time rival David Goffin 7-6, 7-5 in the Netherlands where he later went on to win the title. David was such a tough opponent for Gael that in the past he would pull out of matches in advance knowing that he wasn’t willing or able to play at the level needed to be competitive.

With a fresh perspective on the sport he loves and a new coaching team, Gael now has extra courage and belief in himself that he didn’t before. This fight and determination to play to win must be front and center on Monday against Thiem.

Gael stated yesterday in the post-match interview,

“I feel good, I’m not tired, Let’s not forget that my coach helps me a lot too. I have big ambitions at the Grand Slams.” 

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The key to the match for Gael is maintaining his mental toughness and concentration throughout the entire match. If Gael is able to win early games or sets with ease he must have the focus to finish the match and take advantage of opportunities.

Gael’s serve has been such a huge weapon for him over the last six months. A controlling service game can get him some much needed free points while also bailing him out of tight situations late in the match.

This will be a great contest assuming both players come ready to play their best tennis. Look for Gael to entertain the crowd with some amazing shots. Gael is feeling great and hopefully will have a “play-to-win” approach to this match as he attempts to get his first win against Dominic.

Pro Tour

Gauff wins first WTA title in Linz

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By Editorial Team

Cori “CoCo” Gauff made a huge turnaround at the Linz Open this week after losing in the final qualifying round to now reach the main draw finals.

Putting the “luck” in lucky-loser, CoCo was able to inherit Maria Sakkari’s draw and defeat the number one seeded, KiKi Bertens in straight sets 7-6, 6-4.

Coco was the favorite going into today’s final against Jelena Ostapenko, but it was not easy as Jelena had been playing inspired tennis over the last couple weeks after defeating Karolina Pliskova 7-5 in the third set at the R64 China Open last month.

CoCo had to grind out the win in three long sets to capture the final round against Jelena 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.

This was the first encounter for these two on tour, but CoCo had the slight advantage as the more steady player. Jalena is known for up and down roller coaster play from match to match making the former French Open champion the underdog in this final.

Jalena must now recover in Linz as she must face CoCo’s doubles partner, Caty McNally, next in the first round of the Luxembourg Open early next week. Its assumed that this doubles team (Linz Open semifinalists) will definitely be sharing notes on Jalena’s game over the next couple of days.

The key to CoCo’s success were mixed balls with flat power and slices, a high first serve percentage and being calm under pressure. With this win today, Coco became the youngest American WTA Tour title winner since Jennifer Capriati in Puerto Rico (1990).

Coco is sure to break more records while on her path to winning her first grand slam, but for now she can celebrate a huge Tour title win before she prepares for the holiday season.

When asked about her recent success in Linz, CoCo’s response was accurate and simply put,

“It’s crazy.”

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Pro Tour

How Naomi Got Her Groove Back

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By Editorial Team

Naomi Osaka seems to have found her rhythm late in the season after letting go of her most recent coach, Jermaine Jenkins. After several rumors, now it appears that her Dad, Leonard Francois, has the right formula for success after winning two major WTA events in a row – Japan Open and China Open.

Naomi did it in dramatic fashion as she defeated the 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu and world number 1 Ashly Barty both in tough 3 set matches.

Many feared that coaching changes and off-court distractions may have ruined what appeared to be a great season for Naomi after winning the Australian Open in January. The sports community questioned the decision to part ways with Sascha Bajin after back to back wins in an abrupt fashion after leaving Australia with the championship trophy.

The general media was not informed of any scandal or rationale for the change. Jermaine was thought to have been a good substitute after being the right-hand man for Serena over the last several years on tour. But not all was peachy for Naomi as she was not able to fulfill her true potential under the direction of Jermain.

Rolling into the Asian swing, Naomi appeared to have been mailing it in and preparing for her next coaching transition heading into the 2020 season – choosing her Dad as a bridge.

It was evident that maybe Naomi needed time to unwind from the structure of a tradition coaching team. Unforced errors and patience were added to her stellar shot making ability especially down the stretch late in the third set.

Regrouping after being a set down and making adjustments when needed against the Tour’s top ranked players are definite signs that Naomi has her sights set on regaining her position as world number one.

The way forward should be filled with opportunity for Naomi. With a new home in Los Angeles, CA and some time off after the WTA Finals should enable her to totally regroup for the 2020 season.

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Osaka and Keys in QF at Japan Women’s Open

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By Editorial Team

Naomi Osaka is on pace for a much needed title after an early R16 loss in the US Open. Her quest for the first title of the year began with a win over Viktoriya Tomova 7-5, 6-3 today. With a inconsistent ground game, Naomi is looking to iron out weaknesses with new coach Wim Fissette who is a proven WTA professional with Azarenka, Kerber and Clijsters as former students of his. Recent news broke five days ago on Twitter announcing the split with Jermaine Jenkins after a slew of poor results in major grand slam events this season.

Sloane Stephens is also riding the coaching change wave after accepting Kamau Murray back into her team. The two have earned multiple titles in 2017/2018 so it can only be upside from here as she now faces Camila Giorgi in the R16 of the Japan Women’s Open. This will be a tough test for Sloane as the aggressive Italian has been on a roll with her most recent final run (losing to Magda Linette in 3 sets) at the New York Open that lead into the US Open late last month.

Update: Sloane fell 6-0, 6-3 to Camila in the R16 match which did not live up to the hype. Sloane will look to recover quickly as she prepares for the WTA Finals later this year.

Madison Keys is a favorite to win here in Osaka Japan, but she has to get past the high ranking vet, Angelique Kerber. Madison has a 8:2 win/loss record against Kerber and is healthy enough to get her third win against such a quality opponent. Madison most recently defeated Kerber in the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati last month 6-4 in the third set.

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