The match of the day at the Top Seed Open in Lexington on Wednesday sees world no. 11 Aryna Sabalenka…
The match of the day at the Top Seed Open in Lexington on Wednesday sees world no. 11 Aryna Sabalenka facing off with 16-year-old superstar-in-waiting Coco Gauff for a place in the quarterfinals.
Sabalenka vs Gauff is live from Lexington on Wednesday 12 August at 2pm local/7pm BST
Top WTA stars are returning to action this week after the best part of six months out of competition, with top-20 players like world no. 11 Sabalenka highlighting Internationals in Prague and Lexington, Kentucky.
The first WTA tournament to be played in the USA since March, the new Top Seed Open is headlined by the Williams sisters, Aryna Sabalenka and Coco Gauff – which of these stars will lead the way into the quarterfinals on Wednesday?
Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.
How to watch Sabalenka vs Gauff live
Top Seed Open matches including Aryna Sabalenka vs Coco Gauff are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.
Sabalenka vs Gauff: Head-to-head
This is the first meeting between Aryna Sabalenka and Coco Gauff.
Sabalenka vs Gauff: Preview
From famine to feast: After the best part of six months without any meaningful tennis, the inaugural Top Seed Open is providing popcorn matches a-plenty. The first WTA tournament to be played on US soil since early March, the Lexington event will see the Williams sisters face off on Thursday – but Sabalenka taking on Gauff is more than just a curtain-raiser for that superstar clash.
It was on American hard courts that Sabalenka truly ignited during her sensational 51-25 2018 season, with a semifinal showing in Cincinnati followed by claiming the New Haven title and reaching the last 16 of the US Open, where she was the only player to take a set from eventual champion Naomi Osaka. The Belarusian’s 39-22 2019 season was widely seen as a letdown in comparison, but she still picked up titles in Shenzhen, Wuhan and Zhuhai and finished runner-up in San Jose.
Sabalenka made a bright start to 2020, too, with a semifinal run in Adelaide followed by picking her sixth WTA career title in Doha in February. After six months off court, the world no. 11 extended her winning streak to six matches with a 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-2 victory over Madison Brengle – a tenacious counterpuncher. Sabalenka made her life a little harder than it needed to be – she came back from 0-4 down in the second set and served for the match only to lose it in a tie-break – but the way she regrouped in the decider boded well.
How will the second seed cope with the challenge of Coco Gauff? Still just 16, Gauff did not play much during the lockdown (although her memorable and stirring speech during a Black Lives Matter protest attracted attention for all the right reasons) and was out of competition for even longer than most – she last played at the Australian Open in January, where she knocked out defending champion Naomi Osaka before losing to eventual winner Sofia Kenin.
Up against compatriot Caroline Dolehide in the first round, Gauff did well to win 7-5, 7-5 given her lack of match practice and the fact that her opponent had the advantage of playing her way through qualifying, although it was a somewhat scrappy performance. Superb serving made the difference for the American teenager, and it could be the crucial factor when she faces Sabalenka, as well.
Gauff is 2-3 vs top-10 players and if you leave out her one-sided defeat to Osaka at the US Open last year, when Gauff was somewhat crippled by nerves, the players who have beaten her are cast in more of a counterpunching mould. In contrast, Gauff has excelled against Osaka, Venus Williams, Kiki Bertens – big servers and big hitters who rely on explosive power to end short points. Young as she is, Gauff has a more rounded game which, when married with her big serve, is a fairly lethal combination – and she can keep the tactics a lot simpler against these types of powerhouse players.
Sabalenka falls neatly into this mould, which inclines one to think that Gauff might well add another impressive scalp to her collection in Lexington on Wednesday – and lead the way into the quarterfinals.