By anyone’s measure, not just for a 16-year-old, Coco Gauff has enjoyed a successful 2020 season. The phenom made the final 16 at the Australian Open, reached the semis at Lexington, and in the process scored wins over Venus Williams, Naomi Osaka, Aryna Sabalenka and Ons Jabeur.
She’s quickly evolving into one of, if not the quickest players on the WTA Tour, and consistently frustrates opponents with her spectacular defense, consistency and will to win. One WTA coach described her as “the female Gael Monfils, athletically speaking.”
Gauff’s first-round opponent, Anastasija Sevastova, has not enjoyed a successful season. Since reaching a career-high No. 11 in the world, Sevastova has been slumping. The Latvian owns a 1-8 singles record so far in 2020, but she made her lone victory—a 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-6 (4) win over Serena Williams at the Fed Cup qualifiers in February—count.
In fairness, Sevastova has seen some nasty draws, five of her eight losses coming against players ranked inside the Top 25. But that’s the way it goes in tennis: a few rough draws can send you on a downward spiral, as winning matches is one of the only ways to build confidence during the grueling season. The five-month hiatus came at the perfect time for Sevastova, but judging by her consecutive first-round, straight-set losses in Prague and Cincinnati, her confidence remains in the gutter.
Gauff is not your desired opponent if confidence is an issue. Despite her incredible hype, and skill to match, nobody wants to lose to the youngest player in the draw. As incredible as Gauff may be, there’s something unnerving about losing to a player who was just two years old when you turned pro. Gauff has reached the fourth round in Wimbledon and Australia, proving she can handle the world's biggest stages. This is a tough first round for both opponents, but expect the youngster to advance, and hopefully set up a third round rematch with Naomi Osaka.
The Pick: Coco Gauff