Gauff Dominates Again, Marches Into Wimbledon Third Round

Coco Gauff (photo: Wimbledon video)

WIMBLEDON/WASHINGTON, July 3, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

Five years after her Wimbledon debut at age 15, World No. 2 Coco Gauff of the United States needed just 66 minutes to become the first woman to advance to the third round. The No. 2 seed Gauff defeated 142nd-ranked Romanian qualifier Anca Todoni, 6-2, 6-1, on No. 1 Court to reach the Wimbledon third round for the fourth time.

Gauff hit 13 winners to 16 unforced errors and converted five of nine break points against Todoni, 19, who was making her Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon and playing in just her second WTA tour-level main draw after debuting at Cluj-Napoca in February.

The 20-year-old American from Delray Beach, Fla, saved both break points she faced and swept through the last four games of the second-round match. She outpointed Todoni 62-39. Gauff hasn’t lost a set in either of her two victories this week.

“I’m happy with how I played. I do think I could’ve played cleaner at some moments, but overall, I’m happy to get through to the third round,” Gauff said after her win, during her on-court interview.

After bowing to fellow American and 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the first round of last year’s Wimbledon, Gauff has learned from the experience. Since then, she won her first major at the US Open last September and became a fixture in the Top 10. Gauff will represent the U.S. at the Paris Olympics later this month, playing both singles and doubles.

Although there are expectations placed upon her, whether by fans or the media, Gauff is playing with a renewed spirit and it’s reflected in the quality of her play. She has compiled a 34-10 win-loss record this season and won one title at Auckland.

“Overall, I learned about life a lot,” Gauff admitted, after her 2023 Wimbledon debacle. “I guess it’s what you do when you get older. “What I do I’m very passionate about, but it’s not ever that serious.

“Sometimes, the world can make you feel so much pressure, there’s so much expectations. In the end, it’s a game — it’s sports — I’m very privileged and honored to be playing here in front of you guys.

“Wimbledon is where I got my start, so Court 1 is always very special to me.”

On Friday, Gauff (10-4 lifetime at Wimbledon) will play surprising 298th-ranked British qualifier Sonay Kartel, who upset No. 45 Clara Burel of France, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, in two hours and 15 minutes on No. 3 Court Wednesday. Kartal took out No. 29 seed Sorana Cirstea of Romania in the first round on Monday.

Sinner beats the curfew clock and Berrettini

With an 11 p.m. Wimbledon curfew just 27 minutes away, World No. 1 and top seed Jannik Sinner wrapped up a long night’s work with a remarkable 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (4) second-round victory over fellow 59th-ranked Italian and fan favorite Matteo Berrettini that lasted three hours and 42 minutes on Centre Court. It was Sinner’s seventh straight win on grass.

The triumph maintained Sinner’s perfect tour-level record against Italians at 14-0. In a very tightly-contested match between two friends and competitors — two of Italy’s all-time great players — Sinner hit 10 aces, struck 32 winners and made 25 unforced errors, while Berrettini fired 28 aces, compiled 65 winners and made 48 unforced errors. Sinner outpointed Berrettini 156-141.

It all added up to Sinner’s 40th tour-level win of the season.

“First of all we are very good friends,” Sinner said in his on-court interview. “We played Davis Cup together and we practice together, so it is very very tough we had to face in the second round in such an important tournament. Today was a very high-level match. In three tie-breaks I got a little bit lucky and I take it for today.”

Next, Sinner, who won a grass-court tune-up last month in Halle, will play No. 52 Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, who upset No. 27 seed Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands, 4-6, 7-6 (7), 1-6, 6-2, 6-3, in two hours and 51 minutes on Court 17.

Alcaraz happy with his performance in Vukic win

Defending men’s champion Carlos Alcaraz extended his Wimbledon winning streak to nine matches but he had to recover from an early drop in his levels to do so.

The World No. 3 from Spain garnered a 7-6 (5), 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 69 Aleksandar Vukic of Australia, an Eastbourne semifinalist last week, in an hour and 48 minutes on No. 1 Court.

Alcaraz won an opening-set tie-break after going from 5-2 up to 5-6 down against Vukic. However, he broke his opponent to force the tie-break and won it. Then, he pushed forward with his game and never looked back.

“I am really happy about my performance,” Alcaraz said of his second-round victory in his on-court interview. “I think the first set was the key. He served for the set and I broke and after I played a really good tie-break. I played a really high level in the second and third sets, so I am really happy about it.”

Alcaraz struck 42 winners, made just 15 unforced errors and converted six of 11 break points against Vukic, who countered with 19 winners and 22 unforced errors. It added up to another trip to the third round at SW19 for the 20-year-old Spaniard – his third straight at Wimbledon.

Next, Alcaraz will oppose No. 29 seed Frances Tiafoe of the United States. Tiafoe earned a 7-6 (5), 6-1, 6-3 win over No. 89 Borna Coric of Croatia on Court 18.

“We played a brilliant match at the US Open,” Alcaraz said when was asked about playing Tiafoe. “I know he is a really talented player and it will be tough on here on grass. Good serve, good volley. It will be a difficult match for me but I am ready for that challenge.”

Murray to play mixed doubles with Raducanu

Andy Murray, who withdrew from the men’s singles draw on Tuesday following back surgery 11 days ago to remove a spinal cyst, has added mixed doubles to his Wimbledon farewell tour.

On Wednesday, it was announced that Murray will team up with Emma Raducanu in a blockbuster partnership. They will enter with a wild card. He and Raducanu will face Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador and Zhang Shuai of China in the first round.

“I’m pumped. It came about last minute, it wasn’t something that I’d been thinking about long,” Murray told the BBC. “To get the opportunity to play with Emma will be brilliant.

“We’d spoken a little bit about it during the Covid year but both of us ended up doing well in the singles so it didn’t happen and this was the last chance to make it happen. It should be good.

“When I’ve had the chance to play [mixed] I’ve always really enjoyed it. I think the fans always really enjoy it. It’s two players they know and want to get behind and it should be a brilliant atmosphere in every match that we play.”

According to Stuart Fraser of The Times of London, “It’s obviously a symbolic pairing with Great Britain’s two active Grand Slam singles champions at opposite ends of their careers.”

Soon, after the announcement, the 135th-ranked wild card Raducanu won her second-round singles match on No. 1 Court over No. 33 Elise Mertens of Belgium, 6-1, 6-2, in one hour and 15 minutes.

Murray and his older brother Jamie will be featured on Centre Court Thursday in their first-round men’s doubles match against Australia’s Rinky Hijikata and John Peers.

Around the All England Club

• Men’s fifth seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia, never one to enjoy playing on Centre Court – preferring to play on No. 1 Court – made the most of his star billing as he rallied from a set and a break down to defeat No. 102 Alexandre Muller of France, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-4, 7-5, in three hours and 28 minutes to advance to the third round.

At least by playing under the closed roof of the biggest show court at the All England Club, Medvedev started his match on time at 1:30 p.m. sharp. Play outside, which was scheduled to commence at 11 a.m., was delayed by rain for two hours and it caused the cancellation of six singles and 17 doubles matches.

Medvedev hit 14 aces, hit 34 winners to overcome 45 unforced errors, and converted four of 12 break points. He outpointed Muller 165-145. The 27-year-old Frenchman countered with 48 winners but was undone by 53 unforced errors.

“It was a very tough, physical match,” Medvedev, 28, said in his on-court interview. “Alex played well and some moments in the match were very tough to stay in touch with him. I was losing by one set and a break. On grass that is never easy, but I managed to stay solid, always stay in the match and try to fight. Definitely happy with the win. I should have played much better, but it’s okay. When you win, there is a next round to try to do better.”

As Medvedev continues pursuit of his first title of 2024 – and his first major crown since winning the 2021 US Open – his next opponent will be Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany, who defeated No. 32 seed Zhang Zhizhen of China, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (8), in two hours and 53 minutes on Court 15.

• No. 19 seed Emma Navarro of the United States gave a dynamic and masterful performance in defeating four-time major champion Naomi Osaka of Japan, 6-4, 6-1, in just 58 minutes on Centre Court. The World No. 17 brought the crowd to its feet as she closed out her second-round victory with a flourish. It was Navarro’s Centre Court debut in her second Wimbledon.

“Gosh, you’ve got to be excited for Emma Navarro. She played pretty flawless tennis today,” said nine-time Wimbledon singles champion Martina Navratilova, who was commenting on the Navarro-Osaka match for BBC Television. “For two solid sets, she did it against a player she grew up watching.”

The 23-year-old Navarro from Charleston, S.C., who won an NCAA singles title in 2021 playing for the University of Virginia, captured 82 percent of her first-serve points, hit 16 winners, made only five unforced errors and won four of five break-point opportunities. She put away the victory on her first match point try after Osaka sailed an 11th-shot forehand long.

Meanwhile, the 113th-ranked Osaka, who was playing in her first Wimbledon tournament in five years, won just 63 percent of her first-serve points, finished with just 10 winners and committed 16 unforced errors. Navarro outpointed Osaka 55-38.

“Naomi, obviously, is a great player. It’s great to have her back on tour,” Navarro said during her on-court interview, giving props to the Wimbledon wild card. “She’s been playing some great tennis since she’s been back. I wanted to get the win today and was able to play some great tennis at times. …

“I’ve just been trying to enjoy myself. Today was no exception. It was really special.”

Next, Navarro will play No. 30 Diana Shnaider of Russia, who eliminated No. 50 Sloane Stephens of the United States, 6-1, 6-1, in 49 minutes on Court 16.

• Among the other seeds advancing: Men – No. 12 Tommy Paul, No. 16 Ugo Humbert, No. 21 Karen Khachanov, No. 23 Alexander Bublik, No. 24 Alejandro Tabilo. Women – No. 7 Jasmine Paolini, No. 9 Maria Sakkari, No. 11 Danielle Collins, No. 20 Beatriz Haddad Maia, No. 21 Elina Svitolina, No. 28 Dayana Yastremska, No. 31 Barbora Krejcikova.

• Among the seeded upsets: Men – No. 8 Casper Ruud, No. 17 Felix Auger-Aliassime, No. 26 Francisco Cerundolo, No. 27 Tallon Griekspoor. Women –  No. 25 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, No. 26 Linda Noskova.

Wednesday’s Wimbledon results

Thursday’s Wimbledon order of play 

By the numbers

While defending women’s Grand Slam champions losing in the first round is a pretty recent phenomenon – and It had never happened in the Open Era before Steffi Graf’s 1994 loss to Lori McNeil at Wimbledon – according to Matt Roberts of The Tennis Podcast, it’s happened nine times overall and five times in the last seven years, with the latest being Wimbledon defending champion Marketa Vondrousova losing to Jessica Bouzas Maneiro on Tuesday.

For the record, happened once at the Australian Open, three times at Roland-Garros, twice at Wimbledon and three times at the US Open.

“Quotable …”

I don’t see myself as just, like, a ball-basher, a guy who just hits the ball from the baseline. I play my best tennis when I’m able to open up angles, having a little bit more time to be creative, and I found that perfect balance for a lot of the match today.”

— No. 14 seed Ben Shelton of the United States, during his post-match press conference after defeating Mattia Bellucci of Italy, 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, in a rain-delayed first-round match that began Monday evening and finished Tuesday afternoon.