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Cori Gauff and the record books

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    Cori Gauff and the record books

    As tennis players seem to take longer to reach their full potential and veterans keep going longer, both trends pushing average ages up if those impressions are borne out by stats, the performance of Gauff at the current Wimbledon championships seems incredible for her youth (15 years and a little over 3 and a half months) and I wondered if a new record may be being created.

    But she'll have to do quite a lot more in this event to break an age-related record for slam progress. The only two precedents I've checked are the famously precocious Tracy Austin and Andrea Jaeger.

    Austin was still 14 - a good few months shy of her 15th birthday - when she reached the QF at the 1977 US Open. So no chance of Gauff beating an all-Slams record just by reaching a QF.

    And Jaeger was a few weeks younger than Gauff - around a few days shy of 15y 3m - when she reached the the SF of the 1980 US Open, after reaching the QF of that year's Wimbledon, so:

    - Gauff reaching the QF would not be a Wimbledon record; and
    - Gauff reaching the SF would not be an all-Slams record (though query Wimbledon record - I've only checked Austin and Jaeger's ages/results).

    But presumably if Gauff reached the final that would indeed be an all-Slams age record?

    #2
    You'd need to check Capriati too.

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      #3
      Jennifer Capriati was 14 (and only just that, 14 years 70 days) when she made her first Slam Semi on her debut at the French Open. She reached R4 at Wimbledon less than a month later. And then she made the Wimbledon Semis the next season, still aged younger than Gauff is now (15 yrs 3 months to 15 yrs 4 months). Capriati made the US Open Semis as well in her second season, 1991. She was a top ten player already by, well, the end of her first professional season, i.e. before her 15th Birthday.

      Also Gauff's success does have a more recent forebear, which is nearly as worrying a story as Capriati's. That is Catherine Bellis. Bellis not only won a Slam main draw match as a 15 year-old back in 2014, she did so over a top 20 opponent (Dominika Cibulkova) which is something that Gauff hasn't managed yet (neither Venus nor Rybarikova, for all their grass court pedigree, are currently in the top 32). I'm not sure whether Gauff was younger or older than Bellis on the days of their respective first wins, and whichever it wasn't isn't really relevant as it's only a handful of days either way; both were 15 yrs 4 months, give or take. Bellis is name may prompt a start and then a question of where she currently is. The answer is she hasn't played a competitive match in over 15 months (since reaching the Miami Quarters in 2018) and has had a horrid string of surgeries. Like Gauff, Bellis looked absolutely the real deal when she broke through. It's worth remembering both her and Capriati when telling John McEnroe et al that the WTA age restrictions are there for extremely good reasons based on bitter experience and should in no way be relaxed. And when considering Capriati, whether the reporting of Gauff and promotion of her matches onto Centre Court (cf. today vs Hercog) is actively unhelpful.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Etienne View Post
        You'd need to check Capriati too.
        Exactly what I was busy doing!

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          #5
          Good point. Capriati's run to the SF in 1991 Wimbledon, aged only a week or so over 15y 3m (so a couple of weeks younger than Gauff) means that a Gauff SF would not be a Wimbledon record either. Gauff definitely needs to reach the F to set a new record, even just for Wimbledon.

          Also, Capriati's French Open SF in 1990 was the utterly astonishing age of a little over 14y 2m.

          Edit; pointless post as crossed with Janik's more detailed ones!

          Comment


            #6
            Monica Seles also made a Slam Semi aged 15. But like Capriati in Paris rather than London.

            As per this table from fivethreeeight.com, Gauff is only the 14th youngest winner of a slam match in the open era. And for all that the very youngest is arguably the GOAT (Steffi Graf), there a few busts on the list. See halfway down here:- https://fivethirtyeight.com/features...t-steffi-graf/

            I'd forgotten about Marta Kostyuk! She lost in R1 of the qualies this Wimbledon. She hasn't actually made it through a Slam qualifying since her splash debut in Melbourne last year (R3, beat #25 Peng and Rogowska). And Kostyuk has now reminded me of Sesil Karatancheva as she usurped a record from the Bulgarian that Gauff has subsequently taken. Karatancheva made the French Open QFs as a 14 year-old (including a win over Venus), but subsequently tested positive for nandralone in a sample given during that tournament, and spent ages 16 and 17 banned from competition.
            Last edited by Janik; 05-07-2019, 11:53. Reason: with correct link

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              #7
              Monica Seles (16y6m) vs Jennifer Capriati (14y2m) in a Slam Semi really feels like a different world, doesn't it.

              Another - Hingis. She made the Aussie Open QF when the same age as Gauff is now, give or take a day or two (15y3m). She was a slam champion a year later and world no.1 not long after that. Hingis' record in Slams in the year she did that: 27-1. Only Steffi Graf has ever better that in a calendar year. And Hingis really shouldn't have lost to Majoli in the French Final. And she was only 16 through all of this, with Graf still very much present and correct.

              Comment


                #8
                Hingis won the women's doubles at 15y 9m in 1996 and subsequently did the career slam in women's and mixed doubles.

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