Coco Gauff holds off Paula Badosa in match Andre Agassi would love

Gauff will next play Zheng Qinwen.
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If you love watching a tennis match that features two fantastic players who can dictate every game with consistently bombastic serves then the fourth-round match at the Italian Open between Coco Gauff and Paula Badosa was not for you. Instead, the match became more about who might be able to hold serve. Both players were broken multiple times, including a string of four-straight games in the second set alone.

At this point in their careers, Gauff is the better player and the more athletic one. Badosa has been a very good player but she has been robbed a bit of some of her movement due to a chronic back injury. This did not stop the Spaniard from getting off to a good start, though, as she took the first set 7-5.

That is just before all the breaks of serve happened. Neither player into the third set could get a grasp on the match. Just when one would break the other's serve and teeter on the cusp of controlling the match, another break would happen. Before Gauff finally began to bend the match to her will, each player hovered near winning 50 percent of their service games.

Coco Gauff wins battle of returners against Paula Badosa at Italian Open

In other words, former ATP No. 1 Andre Agassi would have loved the match. He was one of the best returners in the history of tennis, but he lacked a huge serve. Maybe Gauff was inspired by her inner Agassi.

Midway through the third set, however, is when Badosa seemed to tire and Gauff began to use pace and power to pass Badosa often. Gauff finished by breaking Badosa seven times and while Badosa was still playing at a level she had not reached for most of 2024, she was not good enough to overcome the WTA No. 3 and Gauff won 5-7 6-4 6-1.

The struggle for Gauff moving forward, not just in Rome but in any event she plays, will be her serve is not the weapon it should be. She can be overpowering but she has far too many double-faults. She allows other players to stay in matches they should not. Gauff's athleticism is good enough to defeat most players, but her tennis still needs improvement, especially her serve.

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