‘It’s Morally Correct to Dream’

Harjanto Sumali

SORROWS OF A WASTED LIFE: Jason Hurley tweeted, “Sometimes I feel like I’ve spent half of my life watching Gasquet re-grip his racquet.”

LOST GENERATION: Andy Roddick said of the Big Three, “It’s not just dominant for their generation. They’ve almost taken away another generation of potential Slam winners.”


In a superb profile by USA Today, we not only learned that the ranking of the sensational Coco Gauff has risen from No. 875 to No. 141, but that before she was a tennis sensation who made the US Open’s junior’s final at 13, she was a basketball star – a kind of middle school Dennis Rodman, who dominated on defense and on the boards. Author Wayne Coffey says the 5’10” 15-year-old has a “long-limbed physique and ropes of muscle. Gauff has an abundance of power and athleticism and comes by both honestly.” 

Her family has given her much. Her grandmother was long a loud, high profile presence at her matches. Her grandfather Eddie was an Appalachian League baseball player who endured racist taunts, helped integrate hotels and was Dusty Baker’s roommate. Coco’s mother Candi was a collegiate track star at Florida State and her Dad Corey played hoops at Georgia State. But he has regrets. “I got limited. I should’ve been thinking about the NBA, but I got pushed down, and told to just get a college scholarship. I always said I would never do that to my kids. It’s noble to dream. It’s morally correct. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

So it’s not surprising that Corey pushes Coco. His philosophy is clear. “My old basketball coach used to say, ‘There are no miracles on game day. You play the way you practice. The enemy is stagnation. If you stay the same, then you are getting worse.’”

Martin Blackman, the USTA’s General Manager of Player Development, says Coco is an “off-the-charts competitor and problem-solver” who absolutely is going to reach “the top of the game.” 

At Wimbledon, Coco told Inside Tennis that was exactly her goal. The fearless teen then explained to USA Today, “When the game is on the line, I like to go big. That’s the way I am. I just want to go for it.”

Similarly, fans go for it. From Wimbledon to more gritty locations, Coco-mania rages and “Call Me Coco” is the catchphrase of the season.

Wayne Coffey explained that recently, “In an airport bathroom, Gauff emerged from a stall when someone said, ‘Are you Coco Gauff? Can I get a picture with you?’

“Sure, but can I wash my hands first?’ Gauff replied.”


“There’s nothing 15-ish about her now.” – Chris Evert on 15-year-old Coco Gauff

“They’re dropping like flies.” – John McEnroe after Tsitsipas, Thiem and Batista Agut all fell

“I can’t wait to win a match.” – Genie Bouchard after her 11th loss in a row. She hasn’t won a match in over six months

“I just have to control the controllables and go out and give it a good Aussie crack.” – John Millman before heading out to play No. 2 Rafa Nadal

“It’s in the back of my head somewhere. I still feel it. I still feel the pain of that loss…I’m trying to erase it from my memory.” – Tsitsipas on his wrenching defeat to Wawrinka in Paris

“He has a boring game.” – Fabio Fognini after losing to the 6’11” big-serving American, Reilly Opelka

INVISIBLE MAN: Monday night, when asked about the controversial umpire Carlos Ramos, Serena said: “I don’t know who that is.” The dismissive comment brought to mind the time when she was asked about a wretched Wimbledon result she had had the previous year. Serena promptly claimed, “I didn’t play Wimbledon last year.” 

FASHION DIALOGUE: A writer told Eugenie Bouchard, “Your outfit tucks away in the back and pulls up. Is that on purpose?” She replied, “Yes, everything has a purpose.” The writer then asked. “What was the purpose of the outfit today?” Bouchard replied, “Fashion.”

MONICA PUIG – “I WILL NOT BE DEFEATED” Monica Puig, the 2014 Olympic singles gold medalist and No. 59 hadn’t won a title since 2016. So she added Kamu Murray to her team at the end of January. She tweeted: “New team.. who dis?! So excited to have Kamau Murray in my corner! Big things are coming #NewBeginnings.”

But it didn’t last. After losing in the first round of Open, Puig confided she felt deceived by Kamau who left her team unexpectedly for his former student Sloane Stephens.  

“It really hurts,” she said in a trembling voice. She said she was blindsided by Murray’s sudden departure. Apparently, he informed her a few days before the tournament that he would not come to NYC, without saying why. She later learned that Murray had reunited with Stephens and reportedly they were training in secret. Puig said, “I deserve more than that…I’m not going to be defeated.” 

FEDERER’S WOW FACTOR: Andrey Rublev beat Roger Federer in just 64 minutes in Montreal. That was the easy part. Capturing Roger’s greatness in words was a bit more of a challenge for the young Russian. The 21-year-old said, “I mean, this is something, I don’t know, unreal. Now, I mean, I face it and I see how in life – I mean, because before I see this only on the TV, and when you face it and, I don’t know, it’s just, wow, like, he’s a true legend.”

THE GREAT TIAFOE HOPE: GQ magazine said Frances Tiafoe, who downed Ivo Karlovic today, is “the sport’s greatest showman, our country’s latest and maybe best, most realistic hope: a player with the tools, the swagger, and the competitive drive to contend with anyone.” They then described Tiafoe’s unique forehand, “As the ball comes his way, his right arm begins to describe strange pathways behind his body, like a dragon wing unfurling — and more wrist in the shot than any instructor would typically teach. But the technique…allows him to generate incredible torque as his body turns…The effect is of a slingshot…Balls come off his forehand side incredibly heavy, dizzy with spin. They seem to be going up, not down…as if dropped from a cliff.”

SAY IT AIN’T SO: Former No. 8 and the most tattooed man in tennis, Janko Tipsarevic will retire after the Davis Cup in November…Chilean Juan Carlos Saez, No. 1082, has been suspended for eight years and fined $12,500 for failure to comply with the Tennis Integrity Unit…In 18 matches prior to the US Open, Zverev hit 150 double faults. 

GO FIGURE: Duckhee Lee became the first deaf player to win an ATP match…Bianca Andreescu has five wins this year over top ten players and has never lost to a top tenner…The US Open now puts code violations as they occur on the scoreboard.

RUSSIA’S TWIN TOWERS: Just after the Montreal final, pundits noted that Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev share more than their birthplace – Moscow. Both are 6’6”, 23 years old, and they both had 110 career wins on the ATP tour. But then Medvedev screwed up all the stats when he surged forward and reached the Montreal final, and then won Cincy. He’s now No. 5 and Khachanov, who lost today to Vasek Pospisil, is a “lowly” No. 9. Russia now has two top ten players for the first time since Marat Safin and Nikolay Davydenko in 2005. BTW, this US Open was the first year there were no Russian women seeded since Slams introduced the 32-seed system. In 2005, five of the top ten seeds were Russian.


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