Every Week’s A New Challenge For Cocciaretto

Elisabetta Cocciaretto (photo: @elisabettacocciaretto_/Instagram)


Watching Elisabetta Cocciaretto play tennis serves as a reminder that there is value in hard work and optimism. It pays off. Just ask the 20-year-old Italian who has broken through to her first WTA semifinal at the Abierto Zapopan 2021 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

On Thursday afternoon, the 134th-ranked Cocciaretto, who made her professional debut on the ITF World Tennis Circuit in Italy back in 2017, reached new heights with her 6-3, 6-0 victory over No. 83 Lauren Davis of the United States during her 68-minute hard-court victory. It came at high altitude on the Center Court of the Centro Panamericano de Tenis in Guadalajara, in western Mexico and the capital of the state of Jalisco, known for its tequila and mariachi music.

Cocciaretto, who is just 5-feet-5 (1.66m), swings a mighty racquet. She took advantage of 10 double faults by Davis, but also saved eight of nine break points while winning five of six breaks against her opponent. Cocciaretto outpointed Davis by a healthy margin of 60-39. It was her third-straight main draw win and fifth in Guadalajara this week after coming through qualifying to earn a main-draw berth in this WTA 250 event.

On Wednesday, Cocciaretto knocked No. 1 seed Nadia Podoroska out of the tournament. She tamed the 46th-ranked Argentine by converting five of seven break points and saving 11 of the 14 break points she faced.

“I’m very happy to advance from quallies to be in the semifinals,” Cocciaretto told Tennis TourTalk during a virtual conversation following her Thursday victory. “It has been very tough matches against very good players. I taught myself to just play my game, play point by point, and that’s what I’ve done.

“I’m proud of myself to do it every match. Sometimes, it’s been good, sometimes not good.”

While Cocciaretto isn’t too far removed from her career-high ranking of 126th, which she achieved just over a month ago, her success this week in Mexico should boost her close to knocking on the door of the Top 100. Her victory over Davis, her ninth in 12 matches this season, boosted her to No. 109 in the provisional live rankings heading into Friday’s semifinal match against Eugenie Bouchard after the 144th ranked Canadian defeated No. 120 Caty McNally of the United States, 6-4, 6-3, to reach her first WTA semifinal of the year. No. 2 seed Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic and No. 4 seed Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain round out the semifinal field.

During one of the changeovers during Cocciaretto’s quarterfinal match against Davis, the court side TV cameras caught a glimpse of the Italian peering through a notebook she pulled from her racquet bag. Asked if it might contain poetry or other philosophical musings – or just positive reminders related to tennis – Cocciaretto admitted this much: “It’s a notebook that tells me what I have to do on the court. Sometimes, I forget. I tell myself what I have to do in the serve, in the return and during the points. They are things about the game.”

Born in Ancona, Italy, Cocciaretto, who is fluent in Italian, Spanish and English – and answered reporters’ questions in all three languages Thursday evening – has represented her country in Fed Cup competition twice in the past three years. Her career highlights as listed on her WTA biography are modest but they include reaching the doubles final with fellow Italian Martina Trevisan on clay at Palermo last summer after the WTA tour resumed.

Up to now, it’s been a very good week in Mexico for Cocciaretto – one she’ll always remember – and something for her to build upon. Going forward, with every new week, there will be new challenges. Ever the optimist, Cocciaretto appears ready to put in the hard work.

“From this tournament, maybe I will have more confidence,” Cocciaretto suggested. “If not my tennis than what I need to do on the court to learn consistency from these players.

“One week might be good, the next not so good. I have to stay focused every day. I have to do the best I can.”

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