Gauff Overcomes Petkovic To Move Into Her First WTA Final

Coco Gauff (photo: Upper Austria Ladies Linz)

LINZ, October 12, 2019 (by Alessandro Boroch)

Coco Gauff and Jelena Ostapenko will face each other in the title match of the Upper Austria Ladies Linz after prevailing against Andrea Petkovic and No. 8 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova in their respective semifinals.

Saturday’s action in Linz was opened by 15-year-old US-American Coco Gauff and former Top 10 player Andrea Petkovic from Germany. The teenager tried to become the youngest WTA finalist since October 2004, while Andrea Petkovic was attempting to advance into her first championship match since Antwerp in February 2015.

It was the German, who started furiously into the match and managed to break Gauff’s serve in the second game, but the US-American woke up early enough to immediately get back on track with a re-break. The first set was super close with three of the four following games going as far as deuce. At four-all, Gauff found the lines with two great returns to set up break points. Petkovic didn’t sustain the pressure and hit a backhand error to give the youngster the lead, who went on serving extremely well to hold to love and clinched the first set.

The second set was just as tight as the first set and started with Gauff having to face four breakpoints in her first two service games. Nevertheless, Petkovic couldn’t capitalize on her chances and was under pressure during her following service game at two-all. In an exhausting game that lasted almost twelve minutes, Gauff was able to break her opponent’s service game with her sixth break point, which turned out being the last and most crucial break of serve of the entire match.

After 91 minutes, Gauff won 6-4, 6-4 against the 32-year-old German.

“I thought like this was one of the highest level matches I’ve ever played, even though it was in straight sets. Andrea played an amazing match, was hitting a lot of winners, and put a lot of pressure on me. I just tried to bring my serves in and make her play more balls,” Gauff commented on the quality of the match.

The Delray Beach, Florida native literally went through a fairytale movie in Linz. In fact, she lost in the final round of qualifying against Tamara Korpatsch from Germany, but moved into the main draw as a lucky loser after No. 3 seed Maria Sakkari from Greece had to withdraw from the tournament. Despite having had only forty minutes to prepare for her first-round match against Stefanie Vögele, Gauff went on winning it in straight sets. Now, she became the youngest WTA singles finalist since October 2004, and will be the only player under the age of 18 ranked in the Top 100 next week. With a victory on Sunday, she would enter the Top 75 in the WTA rankings.

“This is actually the first time in my career that I got into something as a lucky loser, and now I’m in the final, so I guess every little thing counts, you never know what it can lead to,” said Gauff.

The second semifinal was played between No. 8 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova and World No. 72 Jelena Ostapenko. It has already been their fifth career meeting and Alexandrova won their last three meetings before today’s semifinal in Linz.

The favored number eight seed from Russia rushed through the first set, overcoming Ostapenko 6-1 after just thirty minutes. Alexandrova continued with her great form at the beginning of the second set and quickly had another lead with a break, until Ostapenko woke up and started being more competitive. After a few breaks of serve, Alexandrova set up her first match point, serving at 6-5 (40-30). Ostapenko was able to avert the loss due to great winners that forced Alexandrova into a deciding tie-break, in which the Latvian gained the upper hand, winning 7-6(5).

The deciding set remained highly exciting with Ostapenko having to face two more match points at 4-5 (15-40). Nevertheless, Ostapenko kept serving well and Alexandrova again was not able to close the match out. The Russian started to struggle mentally afterwards and lost her  service game in the following, which in fact costed her the match. Ostapenko won by the score of 1-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 after two hours and 21 minutes.

“I think Alexandrova has played really well, she hit the ball very hard and was also serving well today. I just tried to fight for every point and didn’t give up, this is probably why I won at the end,” Ostapenko said.

“Having reached the final here is amazing, because I didn’t win more than two consecutive matches this year until this tournament, so I’m really happy and looking forward to the final.”

In the final, Gauff and Ostapenko will face each other for the first time in their career.