MELBOURNE, Australia — Emma Raducanu’s face lit up with pleasure throughout her first-round press convention on the Australian Open when she realized her subsequent opponent at Melbourne Park can be fellow WTA rising star Coco Gauff.
The pair will meet Wednesday night on Rod Laver Enviornment, and whereas it could solely be for a spot within the final 32 of the event, it is a blockbuster matchup worthy of being performed deep within the second week of any main.
The explanation for such an early encounter? The 2 have had vastly completely different fortunes over the previous 18 months.
Raducanu’s type has been trending within the flawed path ever since she triumphed on the 2021 US Open as an adolescent. In 2022, she managed simply three Grand Slam wins, cut up with coach Torben Beltz and battled a number of minor accidents. In consequence, her world rating, which peaked at No. 10 after her run in New York, plummeted to 77.
In the meantime, Gauff has vaulted from twenty second to fourth within the rankings over the identical interval, courtesy of a maiden Slam closing look on the French Open in June, in addition to a quarterfinal berth on the US Open. Gauff is seeded seventh for this fortnight in Melbourne and amongst the favorites to win the title.
“I think we’re both good, young players,” Raducanu mentioned on Day 1 of the event. “We’re both coming through as part of the next generation of tennis.”
Gauff and Raducanu have by no means met in skilled competitors, so when the 2 vibrant stars of the ladies’s circuit stroll out to middle courtroom at a Grand Slam, you higher get that popcorn prepared.
Why Coco Gauff will win
Gauff put the ladies’s draw on discover with a dominant first spherical win over Katerina Siniakova, dismantling the Czech 6-1, 6-4 inside 75 minutes.
As anticipated, her uncooked energy and aggression have been actual options. Gauff struck the second-fastest serve of the event to this point, at 193km/h (120mph), and made a behavior of profitable factors when her first serve landed in play (77%). She additionally displayed super poise and management from the backhand wing, the place she discovered eight winners.
Gauff will look to those areas once more when she faces Raducanu, who would possibly battle early within the contest to regulate to what will probably be a major rise in energy from her first-round opponent.
“She’s a great athlete with some real weapons,” Raducanu mentioned of Gauff. “She’s playing really good tennis and looking really solid.”
The doubles pedigree of Gauff additionally offers her a major edge. She not often turns down a possibility to maneuver contained in the baseline and is as efficient as any participant on Tour as soon as she has approached the web. In her opener, Gauff made a transfer to the web 19 instances, profitable 15 of these factors.
Why Emma Raducanu will win
There was actual doubt Raducanu would even function in the primary draw at Melbourne Park after she took a nasty tumble and twisted her ankle on the ASB Basic in Auckland earlier this month.
However after a nervy begin, she, like Gauff, impressed in her first outing on the Australian Open with a snug 6-3, 6-2 win over Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch.
Gauff is clearly the shape participant proper now, however Raducanu is aware of she will be able to nonetheless step up her recreation and play at a considerably larger degree. She struck 34 unforced errors towards Korpatsch, but was at all times in agency management of the match.
Raducanu will look to increase rallies towards Gauff and pressure the 18-year-old into making errors. It is an space the place Gauff confirmed weak point in her opener, dropping 14 of the 19 factors during which rallies lasted a minimum of 9 pictures.
And whereas being unseeded at a serious is much from superb, evidenced by a second-round date with Gauff, maybe a profit is the discharge of stress. Raducanu has performed her finest tennis when she hasn’t been anticipated to, and coming into this match as a agency outsider may gain advantage her.
What’s going to occur?
The pair’s rankings are the place they’re for a motive. Gauff’s purple patch continued into 2023 by profitable the title in Auckland with out dropping a set, earlier than trying ominous in her first spherical in Melbourne. She ought to be profitable this in straight units, too.