Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli has picked out rising American Coco Gauff as the player on the women’s side who she reckons would have a breakthrough season in 2021.
Bartoli said the long pandemic break would have given the 16-year-old enough time to work on her game, iron out flaws and pick up more wins and titles on the women’s Tour next year.
Speaking at a podcast on Tennis Majors, which also featured former Wimbledon junior singles champion Noah Rubin, Bartoli said the experience that Gauff gained from a full year on Tour (in 2019) will help her become a better player. “On the girls’ (side), I think Coco Gauff will be able to (shine in 2021). After a year she has been playing now on the Tour, she’d be able to remaster her game and have even a greater breakthrough that she had in the past,” Bartoli said.
Rubin, too, backed Gauff to be the breakout star in the women’s circuit in 2021. “Yeah, Coco Gauff. I am really curious to see if she can progress at the way we are hoping for. You know, it’s so scary at that age. And during a time like this, with so much on her plate, I’m curious if she can continue to step up,” the American said.
Gauff made the tennis world sit up and take notice of her talent in her debut Grand Slam in 2019. Carrying expectations of a cheering home crowd on her young shoulders, Gauff, then 15, progressed to the third round of the US Open.
Not overawed by the stage, Gauff beat Russian starlet Anastasia Potapova and Hungarian Timea Babos before going down to Japanese tennis sensation Naomi Osaka in the third round. She also won her maiden WTA Tour title at Linz, Austria in 2019, beating 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the final.
Gauff marched into the 2020 season bursting with confidence and the belief showed in her tennis as she beat Romanian Sorana Cirstea, veteran Venus Williams and Osaka, in a stunning upset, to make the fourth round of the Australian Open.
However, her campaigns at the French Open and US Open weren’t as memorable this year as she went out in the second round and first rounds, respectively.