It’s not as common as tennis, but it’s possible for critics to look at a child who can’t legally vote and think, “Well, what have you achieved lately?” Coco Goff – a mere 18-year-old but a de facto veteran, happens when you enter the fourth round of Wimbledon as a 15-year-old – now there are some subtle answers to this question. For one: he Finished Graduation celebrated at home school and the Eiffel Tower, which is probably cooler than anything you did to mark your graduation. For others: Find out what kind of tennis player he is. While his talents and equipment have always been evident, it can be difficult to imagine what the final player might look like in the early days of Prodigy. Every match he has won at this year’s French Open is making a case: Coco is already one of the best defenders in tennis, and it will be harder to break him once he is physically strong. The women’s game has seen some full-time defenders in this era — Simona Halep and Angelique Carbar, to name two of the best — but perhaps none of Goff’s athletic opposite. A new brick wall is rising in WTA.

Last season, it became clear that clay was the most suitable surface for Goff’s hyper-mobile games. She went 16-4 in the 2021 clay season, ending in the quarterfinals of the French Open, where she lost to eventual champion Barbora Krajikova – her best performance in a major so far this week. This clay season, Goff didn’t have such success as far as Paris, but after reaching the main event, Seed No. 18 didn’t turn a blind eye, winning 10 sets in a row on its way to Thursday’s semifinals. It should be noted that Coco has also benefited from the misfortunes of others; In the first and second rounds the top four seeds of the half of the draw ate it. The highest-ranked player faced Goff, No. 31 pick Alice Martens, who also sent one of those very easily, dropping just four games. In the next round he handled Sloane Stephens, another top-level defender whose forehand is sharper than any of Coco’s strokes.

Seeing Gauff in Roland Garros this year, I was inspired by how well he was doing when he had so much more to unlock in his game. Although he is capable of serious numbers in his first survey, the second survey may be unreliable. Although his backhand was always stiff, his loopy forehand hit at inconvenient times and often landed shallowly on the court from his hind legs. Offensive improvements should follow, but he has already bought himself time with a defensive base. His specific talents are sometimes called Shot tolerance: Not getting distracted by any combination of pace, spin and angle is coming your way, getting back into the game without any mistakes. Goff’s shot may not be the strongest or deepest answer possible, but it is a response, the opponent has to run one more ball and send it back. Rising taxes on the opponent’s feet can win the match itself. While this isn’t the most time-efficient way to win, if you have the agility and endurance of an 18-year-old super-athlete, staying away for hours isn’t a bad way.

Gough has given every hint of intense focus and, more recently, a sense of perspective. After beating Stephens on Tuesday, he spoke in favor of walking and cycling around Paris, leaving the “tennis, tennis, tennis” tunnel vision of his younger soul during the big tournament. When your talent puts you far ahead of the professional schedule, you can also get a major start in experienced wisdom.

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