Coco Gauff Proving to be a Threat on Clay, Reaches Her First Final on the Surface in Parma

Coco Gauff Rome 2021
American teenager Coco Gauff fought to win a three-set semifinal over Katerina Siniakova to reach the final in Parma, her second career WTA final and first on clay. She is hoping for a title to cap off an impressive few weeks following her run to the semifinal in Rome. Siniakova was the first player to take a set off Gauff this week, after she dispatched her first three opponents in straight sets highlighted by an impressive 6-3 6-3 win over fellow American Amanda Anisimova. She had a breakout tournament in Rome where she scored her first two top-10 wins on clay, over Madrid champion Aryna Sabalenka and world #1 Ash Barty (though Barty retired after winning the first set). Gauff’s run to the final is even more impressive considering her time on court by also reaching the doubles final with partner Caty McNally.

Gauff was victorious in her only other final in Linz over Jelena Ostapenko in 2019, though her opponent tomorrow Qiang Wang presents a different challenge. The Chinese veteran has never player Gauff, and has had a good career highlighted by two titles, though this will be her first final on clay as well. She came into Parma with just a 1-3 record on clay in 2021, but something clicked this week with her run to the final including a tight win over #2 seed Petra Martic. Gauff looks to have found her footing on clay and has been more dominant than Wang this week, so if she can limit her errors and double faults, the American will have what it takes to lift the second trophy of her young career.

French Open and Future Outlook

Gauff had limited success on clay coming into 2021, so her form recently is encouraging for her going forward. In two weeks she will attempt to continue her run at the French Open, which has been her worst major in her career, managing the second round in 2020 in her only main draw appearance. While she clearly has what it takes to play on clay, she will need a few more signature wins under her belt to be viewed as a real contender. Gauff has proven to be good enough to beat most unseeded players, but still is a step below the elites such as Barty and Iga Swiatek. She is already at a career-high ranking at world #30 and will top that when the new rankings come out regardless of the result in the Parma final. This will make her likely to receive a seed at Roland Garros which creates a reasonable path to the third round. It will be up to her draw to see if she has a chance at a deeper run, but she has proven that while maybe not a contender yet, she is surely someone to watch out for.
Overall, Gauff has shown at 17-years-old that she has already picked up a surface that it takes many Americans their entire careers to master. While she may still lack the consistent big wins, it is a massive improvement to get to this point and yet another piece of evidence that she will be a force on the WTA Tour in the coming years. Though Parma is only a WTA 250, winning the title will be big to propel her confidence forward as she continues to learn and improve her game on clay. As she has already shown the world what she can do on grass and hard, Gauff’s potential as an elite all-around player will make her a serious contender to join Iga Swiatek as the only teenagers in the top-10.

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