Teenage superstar in the making Coco Gauff looks to secure a place in the second WTA semifinal of her career…
Teenage superstar in the making Coco Gauff looks to secure a place in the second WTA semifinal of her career as she faces Arab trailblazer Ons Jabeur in Lexington.
Gauff vs Jabeur is live from Lexington on Friday 14 August at 4pm local/9pm BST
Sixteen-year-old sensation Coco Gauff is aiming to reach her first WTA Tour semifinal on home soil as the WTA restart event in Lexington, Kentucky heads towards the weekend in triumphant style.
After ousting second seed Aryna Sabalenka in a lengthy contest, Gauff takes aim at eighth seed Ons Jabeur, the unconventional trailblazer who made a historic run to the Australian Open quarterfinals in January.
Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.
How to watch Gauff vs Jabeur live
Top Seed Open matches including Gauff vs Jabeur are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.
Gauff vs Jabeur: Head-to-head
This will be the first meeting between Gauff and Jabeur.
Gauff vs Jabeur: Preview
Gauff’s absence from competition has been even longer than most – she has not played since losing in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January to eventual champion Sofia Kenin – but the 16-year-old has been just as impressive on her return to WTA Tour tennis as she was before the hiatus, recording wins over Caroline Dolehide and Aryna Sabalenka to make the quarterfinals in Lexington.
That’s not to say that there hasn’t been rust evident for Gauff. She served well but struggled with some other aspects of her game in a 7-5, 7-5 victory over Dolehide; against world no. 11 Sabalenka, the reverse was the case with Gauff’s serve probably the weakest part of her performance.
It was, overall, an incredibly impressive performance. Second-seeded Sabalenka was playing fantastic tennis before the shutdown, winning the Qatar Total Open in Doha, and she brought her full arsenal of blistering power off both wings to the clash, complete with patches of wild unforced errors. The Belarusian was the first to break in the clash before Gauff broke back and led 5-2, only for Sabalenka to reel off five games and serve for the set at 6-5. The swings of momentum in the match were primarily attributable to Sabalenka’s game going on and off the boil, but Gauff really impressed with the way she handled those swings, and continued to deliver on the key moments: Sabalenka’s unforced errors were mainly responsible for the 5-0 lead to which Gauff jumped out in the tie-break, but then the Belarusian played much better tennis and threatened to get back on level terms, only for Gauff to pull out some tremendous tennis to close out the set, showcasing an impressive turn of speed to chase down Sabalenka’s short ball for the winner.
Eight double faults from Gauff (for just two aces) was not what the young American wanted, but she saved 9 of the 16 break points she faced compared to 5 of 12 saved by Sabalenka, and when the third set began with a frustrating exchange of breaks she continued to impress with her resilience.
She’ll need the same quality against Ons Jabeur. The Tunisian has been a connoisseur’s choice for some years now, but since her run to the Moscow final at the end of 2018, Jabeur has been showing that her unconventional brand of tennis can be as effective as it is watchable. In 2019, she made semifinals in Eastbourne and Tianjin, and reached the third round of the US Open; and at the Australian Open in January, she made history as the first Arab woman to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam as she defeated Caroline Wozniacki, Johanna Konta and Wang Qiang before eventually falling to Sofia Kenin.
Before the shutdown, Jabeur snapped a six-match losing streak to top-10 players when she beat Karolina Pliskova in Doha, and despite obvious and to-be-expected rust, she has been playing well in Lexington. A 6-2, 6-4 victory over Caty McNally was followed by an impressive comeback from a set down against match-tough qualifier Olga Govortsova in the second round, the eighth seed shaking off a frustrating, low-energy first set to win 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
The anticipation and footspeed Gauff showed in chasing down Sabalenka’s short balls will stand her in good stead against Jabeur, but as much as anything, it’s Gauff’s propensity to elicit errors from her opponent that give her the advantage in this one. Jabeur will likely hit a hot streak at some point and take a set, but Gauff should be able to outsteady the Tunisian to make her second WTA Tour career semifinal in Lexington.