Teenage sensation Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff will take on Greece's Maria Sakkari in the opening round of the Western & Southern Open WTA Premier 5 tournament on Sunday.
The 16-year-old Gauff has been in fine form in 2020 and even more so of late, as she reached the semifinals of the Top Seed Open in Lexington last week. She displayed exceptional skill and tenacity to overcome the likes of Ons Jabeur and Aryna Sabalenka during her run, and will be looking to continue where she left off.
Maria Sakkari on the other hand has had a lukewarm 2020 so far. She has won nine out of the 16 matches she has played this year, with her best performance coming at the Australian Open - where she made the Round of 16.
Both players will be looking to use the Western & Southern Open as a platform to get acclimatized to the hardcourts of Flushing Meadows, given that the same venue will be used for the upcoming US Open.
Despite her young age, Coco Gauff packs more than a punch with her game - which has left several higher-ranked players dumbfounded already. Maria Sakkari, who has lost the only match she has played since the resumption of tennis, will have to play out of her skin to overcome the American.
Coco Gauff vs Maria Sakkari head-to-head
Coco Gauff and Maria Sakkari have never played against each other. That, however, shouldn’t deter the former as she tends to approach all her matches with the same intensity and dedication.
Coco Gauff vs Maria Sakkari prediction
When it comes to her style of play, Coco Gauff is equally well-balanced in the physical and the tactical departments. She’s also one of the best movers on the WTA tour, and that would be especially handy against someone like Sakkari who has great variety in her shots.
Both players have the ability to hit the ball flat and hard, which means there could be a lot of winners in the match. The hardcourts of Flushing Meadows are reportedly playing faster than in previous years, and that could tilt the match in Gauff’s favor given her superior movement.
For Sakkari, the backhand would be the key shot as she tries to break through the exceptional defence of the American. That is easily the Greek's strongest weapon, and she would be hoping it comes good during the match - especially on the return.
Even though Maria Sakkari is the higher-ranked player, Coco Gauff comes in with far superior recent form. It will take a monumental effort from the Greek to pull off a win against the teenage sensation.
Prediction: Coco Gauff to win in straight sets.
Tournament: Western & Southern Open WTA
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York, USA
Category: WTA Premier 5
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $1,950,079
Match timing: Not before 1 pm EDT (10:30 pm IST)
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPNPublished 22 Aug 2020, 07:14 IST