- Iga Swiatek will be playing her second match of the day against a rested Cori Gauff in the Rome semifinals
- Gauff has beaten Madrid champ Aryna Sabalenka and Stuttgart champ Ash Barty in back-to-back matches
- The first meeting between the two teenagers has Swiatek as the favorite. We break down the possibilities below
Cori (Coco) Gauff has had her ups and downs this season. But she has been solid and opportunistic this week in reaching the biggest semifinal of her young career at the Italian Open.
For her opponent, Iga Swiatek, it’s also a huge week. The fact that she already has a Grand Slam title (at the French Open last fall) obscures the fact that she’s still a very young player on tour.
Until this week, she had never gone past the third round at any top-level WTA Tour event.
Cori Gauff vs Iga Swiatek Odds
|Player||Spread||Moneyline||Total at DraftKings|
|Cori Gauff (USA)||+3.5 (-103)||+188||O 21.5 (-104)|
| Iga Swiatek (POL)||-3.5 (-124)||-240||U 21.5 (-122)|
Odds as of May 15
At the Italian Open last year (held in September), Swiatek lost in the first round to qualifier Arantxa Rus.
Before the tournament, Swiatek was at +800 to win outright; Gauff was way down the list at +4500.
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Two Teenagers in the Semifinals
Matchups between teenagers in the final stages of a top-level WTA Tour event used to be the norm.
These days, it’s a major exception. And as Swiatek turns 20 on May 31, it might not happen again for awhile.
Iga Swiatek into her 1st WTA 1000 semifinal with a 62 75 win over Elina Svitolina. Now 4-0 in quarterfinals.
1st Top 10 win for Swiatek in 2021.
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) May 15, 2021
Gauff’s path has been somewhat similar in that she has made her mark at the majors, more than at the top WTA level so far in her career.
Both players are at career highs – No. 15 for Swiatek, No. 35 for Gauff.
Whatever happens, Swiatek will be a top-16 seed in Paris. For Gauff, the week means she will be seeded at a major for the first time. And if she can win Saturday against Swiatek, she’s likely to be inside the top-24 seeds. That would mean she could avoid playing a top-eight player until the round of 16, if she can get there.
So there’s a fair bit at stake for the young American, if she gets too ahead of herself.
Gauff Serving Woes Solved, for Now
One big issue Gauff says she has addressed since Madrid, where she lost her opener to Karolina Pliskova, is the struggle on serve.
The double faults have come in bunches, and in the more pressure-packed moments.
After serving 12 DFs vs. Karolina Pliskova in a 1R loss in Madrid, Coco Gauff put in the reps on her serve.
Gauff is averaging 1.3 DFs in Rome, down from her season average of 6.2.
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) May 14, 2021
Will that newfound confidence hold up under the pressure of arguably the biggest match of her career so far? We shall see.
Cori Gauff vs Iga Swiatek Head-to-Head
|17 (March 13, 2004)||Age||19 (May 31, 2001)|
|Delray Beach, Fla.||Birthplace||Warsaw, Poland|
|1||Career WTA Singles Titles||2|
|No. 35 (March 15, 2021)||Career High Ranking||No. 15 (March 1, 2021)|
|No. 35||Current Ranking||No. 15|
|$1,351,741||Career Prize Money||$3,332,979|
|18-8||2021 Won/Loss record||17-5|
Gauff Gets Sabalenka, Barty
The impressive results Gauff put up in her Wimbledon debut, mostly facing women pushing 30 or beyond, was that when her older competitors got nervy at the thought of losing to a 15-year-old and tightened up like drums, she just kept putting the ball in the court.
That’s much of the reason why she got past Madrid champion Aryna Sabalenka in the fourth round (even though Sabalenka is younger).
— Tennis GIFs 🎾🎥 (@tennis_gifs) May 14, 2021
In the quarterfinal against Barty, the world No. 1 was up a set when she retired with the recurrence of an unspecified arm injury. Two weeks before a major, knowing what was required to heal it, she pulled the plug on a rainy day Friday.
Doubleheader for Swiatek
For Swiatek, the challenge is significant. Luckily, she’s young.
While Gauff advanced Friday thanks to Barty’s retirement, the Polish player’s quarterfinal against No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina was cancelled because of the rain.
She had to come out Saturday morning and defeat Svitolina. Which she did: 6-2, 7-5 in an hour and 36 minutes.
Both served poorly; Swiatek capitalized five times on 10 break-point opportunities (Svitolina was 2-of-4).
That was already one great win on Saturday, against the 2017 and 2018 Rome champion.
Coming back again the same day to fight for the final will be a new experience.
First Career Meeting
The two have never met before.
The “elder” Swiatek displays more craft on the clay. And despite having already played Saturday, she seems to have shaken off her ennui from the quarterfinal match against Barbora Krejcikova.
The title is there for the taking, so you go with the player with (slightly) more experience in the big moments. But expect Gauff to take a set.
Best Bet: Swiatek in three sets (+310)