“I hate to see her not be able to play”: Coco Gauff disappointed by Sabalenka's withdrawal from Wimbledon

WTA
Tuesday, 02 July 2024 at 22:00
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Coco Gauff expressed her disappointment over Aryna Sabalenka's withdrawal from Wimbledon, despite the draw becoming more open for players without the presence of the world No. 3. The Belarusian cited a shoulder injury and decided not to take to the court for the first round on Monday.
One of the major beneficiaries is world No. 2 Gauff, who has seen several seeded players on her side of the draw exit the competition due to defeats or injuries. The 2-time Australian Open champion is not the only seed to withdraw before the tournament, as her compatriot Victoria Azarenka and grass-specialist Ekaterina Alexandrova also couldn't debut in the tournament.

Gauff reflects on open draw after Sabalenka's exit

While a potential semifinal clash between Gauff and Sabalenka was anticipated, the draw now appears more open for players in the bottom half. Several surprising first-round defeats have eliminated players like Zheng Qinwen (8th), Mirra Andreeva (24th), and Sorana Cirstea (29th).
Currently, Gauff avoids a matchup against any of the 32 seeds until the fourth round, where a potential clash against Emma Navarro (19th) looms. After that, the main contenders include 7th seed Jasmine Paolini as a possible quarterfinal opponent and Maria Sakkari (9th) in the semifinals, assuming no further surprising upsets occur.
However, the 20-year-old American lamented Sabalenka's withdrawal and downplayed the potential semifinal clash: "I mean, I wouldn't have probably played her till the semis. At that point, it's just like this is the semifinals of a Grand Slam. No matter who you play, it's going to be a tough person to play," the world No. 2 said. "But it is unfortunate that she had to pull out. She's always a contender in every slam and every surface. She's such a competitor. She's a nice person."
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Sabalenka defeats Gauff in Australian Open semi-finals en route to her second Grand Slam title.
"I hate to see her not be able to play, especially it being such a last-minute type thing. I think she was healthy up until Berlin, at least that's my understanding. So hopefully she's able to get back ready,” Coco Gauff added. "I don't think she's playing Olympics, so she'll have some time to be ready for the hard court swing."
"Heartbroken to have to tell you all that I won't be able to play the Championships this year,” Sabalenka stated few hours before her first round clash. "This tournament means so much to me and I promise I'll be back stronger than ever next year."
Sabalenka, who was defending last year's semifinals, will lose 780 points in the WTA rankings, further distancing her from world No. 2 Gauff. There is almost a 1000-point gap between them in the Live Rankings. However, her good distance from No. 4 Elena Rybakina keeps her in a strong position, as the only way Sabalenka would fall in the rankings is if Rybakina wins the title. Otherwise, she will remain world No. 3 heading into the next hard-court swing.

Heartbroken to have to tell you all that I won’t be able to play The Championships this year. I tried everything to get myself ready but unfortunately my shoulder is not cooperating. This tournament means so much to me and I promise I’ll be back stronger than ever next year. ❤️

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