Takeaways: Gauff edges Kudermetova in Stuttgart opener


No.5 seed Coco Gauff scored her first career victory at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix with a 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(3) win over Veronika Kudermetova in 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Here are the key takeaways behind the American teenager’s win.

Gauff pulled through a scrappy three-setter: The 19-year-old arrived in Stuttgart with a few factors against her. Less than a week ago, she was competing back home on hard courts in Florida in the Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers. She is currently coachless, having split with Diego Moyano after Miami. And she had lost her only previous encounter with Kudermetova 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 in the Doha quarterfinals in February.

As such, it wasn’t completely surprising that the match wasn’t of the cleanest quality. Gauff totalled 53 unforced errors to 24 winners, and Kudermetova 80 unforced errors to 35 winners. There were 15 breaks of serve in total, resulting in some unpredictable momentum shifts. Gauff led 3-0 and then 4-2 in the second set, only for Kudermetova to mount a comeback. In the decider, Gauff came from an early break down to serve for the match at 5-3, but ultimately needed a tiebreak to get over the line.

Back in 2019, Gauff made her name via a series of similar three-set rollercoaster wins. Coming into this match, she had lost two of her three three-setters this season. This match was evidence that her fundamental grit remains intact.

Gauff is a reliable early-round performer: This result marks 12 months since Gauff last lost a completed opening match at a standard tournament. That was her first-round defeat at the hands of Daria Kasatkina in Stuttgart last year. Since then, she has won 18 out of 20 opening rounds; the only exceptions were a retirement against Marie Bouzkova in Cincinnati and her maiden WTA Finals campaign in Fort Worth, where she went 0-3 in the round robin stage.

Kudermetova’s ascent into the Top 10 last year also came on the back of a series of reliable runs — something she continued in the first two months of 2023, making at least the quarterfinals in four of her first five tournaments. But the 25-year-old is now on a four-match losing streak. She also fell in the third round of Indian Wells to Karolina Pliskova and then in her Miami opener to Marketa Vondrousova, and her Charleston opener to Diana Shnaider.

Gauff has the opportunity for a second consecutive revenge match: Having reversed one 2023 loss in Stuttgart, Gauff will get the chance for another in the second round. She will face Linz champion Anastasia Potapova, who knocked her out of Miami 6-7(8), 7-5, 6-2 in the third round and who also won her Stuttgart opener in a third-set tiebreak, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4) over Petra Martic. Gauff leads their overall head-to-head 2-1.

“That was a close one,” said Gauff. “I had opportunities in that match. I mean, again, I’m not expecting an easy match. She’s been playing better and better each week. I think that I’m just going to have to keep that aggressive mindset, especially against her, someone who can come up with some big shots.” (WTA Tour)

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