After a meteoric rise to fame and the upper echelon of the women’s game, Coco Gauff is learning how difficult life as a professional tennis player can be. The 16-year-old is still winning plenty of matches, and her movement and athletic prowess still rank among the game's best, but Gauff’s game seems to be plateauing, at least for the moment.
After a hard-fought win over Jasmine Paolini, Gauff will face off against Petra Martic for a spot in the Adelaide International quarterfinal. Martic also had a difficult test, rallying past Ludmilla Samsonova, 4-6, 6-0, 7-5.
Despite her difficulty closing out matches, Gauff should probably win this match. She is a solid -195 favorite according to DraftKings Sportsbook and is much more comfortable on a quick hard court than Martic.
Gauff’s backhand is tremendous, and she’ll own the advantage in that department, but she's been struggling mightily with her forehand during clutch moments.
Up a set and 4-2 against Paolini, Gauff’s forehand disappeared, and Paolini targeted it on nearly every shot.
It was a combination of nerves, deceleration and bad shot selection.
Some forehands were smothered into the net.
While others were hit with no pace or confidence whatsoever. This type of forehand approach does not work at any level of professional tennis.
Unlike Paolini’s relentless pace and flat-hitting, Martic will extend the point with her movement and her exceptional slice backhand. She will offer different looks than Paolini, and covers the net extraordinarily well.
The two have never played before, so there will be a feeling-out process in the beginning as each player formulates a plan of attack, but at least for now, the book is out on Gauff. Pressure her forehand on the key points, and attack her second serve. Gauff double faulted five times on Monday, and won’t be afforded that luxury against Martic, whose range on her return is far superior to Paolini’s and will put many more returns in play.
Gauff ultimately prevailed due to her competitive spirit and athletic advantage over the 5’3" Paolini, but Martic is a phenomenal athlete, and will make Gauff’s life much more difficult than the Italian.
The teenager’s determination combined with her comfortability with a quick hard court makes this match a toss-up, which is why the safest bet is the over 20.5 game total at -143.
The Pick: Over 20.5 total games
2021 Pick Record: 27-10