The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Damien’s Spin: Gauff may get wild card entry into US Open

July 18, 2019

Coco Gauff, youngest player ever to qualify for the main draw at Wimbledon at age 15, did more than capture a lot of hearts with her play at the All-England Club.

She vaulted herself right out of obscurity.

Gauff’s Wimbledon results helped her jump 172 spots in the WTA rankings to No. 141 in the world, an enormous improvement from No. 313. Suddenly everybody in tennis knows who she is and getting into the top 100 looks very possible.

However, it’s going to be tough to do so this year. Between her 15th and 16th birthdays, Gauff can only play 10 professional events under WTA rules, and she’s already played seven. However, she is expected to receive a “merit bonus,” which would allow her to play two more. She doesn’t turn 16 until March 13th.

Interestingly, reports suggest the U.S. Open is planning to offer Gauff a wild card entry into the main draw despite the fact she has already received three wild cards on tour this year, supposedly the maximum. U.S. Open officials, however, say the tournament is exempt, and the New York Post reported WTA officials are not expected to challenge that.

Wimbledon helped the rankings of quite a few other players. Alison Riske improved to No. 37 in the world from No. 55. Both Serena Williams and Simona Halep moved up. Halep is now No. 4 in the world, and Williams is No. 9, her highest ranking since becoming a mother.

On the men’s side, Roberto Bautista Agut leapt to No. 13 from No. 22, his highest ranking ever coming off his Wimbledon semifinal, which was his best ever Grand Slam performance.

In doubles, Barbara Strycova became No. 1 in women’s doubles for the first time after capturing the Wimbledon title with Hsieh Su-wei over the tandem of Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan. The winning combination became the first team since the Williams sisters to capture Wimbledon doubles without losing a set.

Konta clashes with media

It’s not easy being the British favourite at Wimbledon. Never has been.

It wasn’t easy for Tim Henman, or for Andy Murray, at least until he won. It wasn’t easy for Laura Robson when it appear she might become a serious challenger for the crown, and these days, Johanna Konta is finding it tricky.

The pressure of being Britain’s No. 1 hope overflowed on Konta after she was eliminated from Wimbledon, upset by Barbara Strycova of the Czech Republic.

woman playing tennis

The 28-year-old Konta pointedly accused a media member of “patronizing’ her when he repeatedly questioned Konta on her disappointing result. When it was suggested that her 33 unforced errors had more to do with her defeat than with anything Strycova did, Konta got upset.

“I still believe in the tennis that I play. I still believe in the way I competed,” she protested.

Believe me, it’s a challenge for both athlete and journalist in these situations. For the athlete, there’s usually been a great deal of media “training” in addition to psychological training aimed at putting the best possible face on defeat. For the journalist, you get tired of hearing the same psycho-babble nonsense from players and try to get some degree of honesty.

Clearly, Konta wasn’t in the mood for honesty. Clearly, the reporter wasn’t in the mood for her answers, and challenged her.

It’s all good. The athlete has the right to answer the questions the way the athlete prefers, and the journalist has the right not to accept those answers

Wimbledon continues to expand

Photo: Mauricio Paiz

Roofs over show courts were, as it turns out, just the start of it for the All-England Club.

Wimbledon now plans to expand its operations right across to the other side of Church Road, the road made famous for years for the queues of fans lining up in hopes of even having the chance to buy a ticket. The walk from Southfields tube station up Church Road past flower gardens and well-kept homes is truly one of the pleasures of attending the event.

Until now, the area across the street from the Wimbledon grounds has been a large park with tennis courts and other areas for sport activities. Now, the All-England Club is putting the finishing touches on a purchase plan which, among other things, will allow the installation of a a large number of grass courts that will allow Wimbledon to host qualifying singles matches there, rather than at Roehampton.

This could possibly be all finished by 2024.

(Feature photo by: WTA/Getty Images)