- No. 5 seed Coco Gauff will face unseeded Victoria Azarenka in the Guadalajara Open quarterfinals Oct. 21
- Azarenka has had a retirement and a back injury from her opponents in the last two rounds
- It’s the first career meeting between the two, who are 15 years apart in age
Victoria Azarenka came to Guadalajara with no expectations, in her final tournament of the season after a very difficult campaign. Read on for a Victoria Azarenka vs Coco Gauff preview.
For Azarenka to find herself in the quarterfinals is a bonus. And she had a fair bit of help.
Azarenka vs Gauff Odds
|Victoria Azarenka (BLR)||+2.5 (-105)||+140||O 21.5 (-115)|
| Coco Gauff (USA)||-2.5 (-130)||-175||U 21.5 (-120)|
Azarenka was due to play the always-tough Zhang Shuai in the first round. But Zhang withdrew after the draw, and Azarenka ended up facing lucky loser Elina Avanesyan instead, who was playing just her second match at the WTA 1000 level and has spent most of her career so far on the ITF circuit.
Then, Azarenka came up against No. 1 seed Paula Badosa, who was still in the mix to qualify for the WTA Finals but who has clearly been struggling for much of the last few months.
Badosa came out with a breathing strip on her nose, and called the trainer in the first set. She tried for a few games, but in the end retired after losing the first set 6-2.
In the third round on Thursday, Azarenka came up against Madison Keys (who also was still in the running for the Tour Finals, to be held in her own country for the first time in eons). But Keys pulled a muscle in her back even as she came back and won the second set in a tiebreak. She had treatment, but was compromised on the backhand even if she did finish the match.
So it’s been a sweet ride for the Belarussian.
Gauff a Double Qualifier for Texas
As for Gauff, who is 15 years Azarenka’s junior, she had a quick transition to make after going deep and winning the doubles last week in San Diego.
She and partner Jessica Pegula had to get to Guadalajara, get a few practices in to get used to the mile-high altitude the (very) different tennis balls, the heat and humidity and the slower courts.
But it was all gravy, because Gauff has qualified for both the singles and the doubles at the WTA Finals. Then again, there is a WTA 1000 tournament at stake this week, and the top two players in the world (Iga Swiatek and Ons Jabeur) are sitting this one out.
— Coco Gauff (@CocoGauff) October 19, 2022
Gauff has won big titles in doubles. But her two singles titles so far were minor 250-level tournaments: Linz in 2019, and Parma in 2021.
After a first-round bye, she got through her opener against qualifier Elisabetta Cocciaretto 7-6 (1), 6-3, and she said afterwards that she had some adjustments to make with string tension and tactics.
Her next opponent was also Italian, Martina Trevisan. And Gauff gave up just three games. Consider the adjustments made.
Azarenka vs Gauff Head-to-Head
|33 (July 30, 1989)||Age||18 (March 12, 2004)|
|Minsk, Belarus||Birthplace||Delray Beach, Fla.|
|21||Career WTA Singles Titles||2|
|No. 1 (Jan. 29, 2012)||Career-Best Ranking||No. 7 (Oct. 16, 2022)|
|No. 37||Current Ranking||No. 7|
|$34,771,763||Career Prize Money||$5,348,276|
|23-12||2022 Won/Loss Record||38-18|
Big Serve against Top-Class Return
Azarenka’s current ranking is No. 37. But only two players in the top 10 have a better percentage of return points won. And only three in the top 20 have a better success rate on returning second serves.
So that’s a big asset for her, against a player who’s a pretty big server in Gauff.
But Gauff is second-worst to only Ekaterina Alexandrova in the number of double faults she’s hit in 2022. So pressure on that second serve, which Azarenka is capable of producing, can attack that weakness.
Azarenka vs vs Gauff Pick
The younger Gauff is a favorite, but not a huge one, in this match.
And she has a lot more tennis to play this season, including the WTA finals in both discplines and after that, the BJK Cup finals in Glasgow.
This is the last week for Azarenka She’ll give it her all and it should be competitive, even if she doesn’t prevail.
Best Bet: Azarenka to Win the First Set (+125)
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