It’s one of the most common pieces of coaching advice, but it’s not an easy instruction to follow:
“Play the way you want to play,” or, “play your game,” or, “play the match on your terms.”
Coaches would unanimously agree that a short term victory while “playing not to lose” can actually be detrimental. But when you stick to your guns and it finally clicks, like it did for Elisabetta Cocciaretto on Wednesday night in her 6-2, 6-4, victory over Donna Vekic, it can become a well of confidence and a building block for future success.
“My tennis is aggressive and I try to do that on the serve and return,” she told TENNIS.com after her biggest career win. “I was concentrated and motivated.”
The 19-year-old wildcard dominated the world No. 24 with unrelenting pressure from her court positioning and ball-striking. She made it clear that weak second serves would not be tolerated, hitting many returns from feet inside the baseline.
It wasn’t just the second serve, Cocciaretto was glued to the baseline on Vekic’s first serve, too.
Playing primarily through the middle of the court, once Cocciaretto saw an opening on her forehand, she let it rip.
It was certainly a landmark victory for the Italian, but she would be wise not to dwell on her most recent success, as her quarterfinal opponent's stock has been soaring since 2016.
Four years ago, Anett Kontaveit was ranked outside the WTA’s Top 100. She now sits at No. 22, but according to her current UTR rating, she is the 13th best player in the world. Kontaveit survived a tough test from skilled clay-courter Laura Siegemund, ultimately prevailing, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, on Thursday. Siegemund is notorious for playing a funky style and Kontaveit will no doubt appreciate the chance to hone in on Cocciaretto’s consistently flat ball.
Though clay is not Kontaveit’s preferred surface, the Estonian should capitalize on the relatively wide open draw. Not often do you face a quarterfinal opponent ranked outside the Top 150. Perhaps Cocciaretto still has some magic left, but experience should prevail in this match. A letdown would only be natural for a player making her debut in a WTA quarterfinal after clinching the biggest win of her young career.
The Pick: Anett Kontaveit in 2 sets