Coco Gauff set for extended break as she is forced to make schedule tweak

Coco Gauff during a match

Coco Gauff’s break before the season-ending WTA Finals will be longer than initially anticipated following her injury-enforced withdrawal from the Zhengzhou Open.

The US Open champion was due to make her debut at the WTA 500 hard-court event on Wednesday after accepting a late wildcard, but the injury she sustained during the China Open is more serious than first thought.

Gauff sustained the injury during her quarter-final win over Maria Sakkari on Friday and she again had to battle through the pain during her match against Iga Swiatek on Saturday.

The American required a medical timeout midway through the semi-final clash – which she lost in straight sets as Swiatek ended her 16-match unbeaten run.

After the match she admitted that “it’s not a terrible injury” and her team told her that she “will be fine with a little rest”.

However, the injury clearly needs more rest and Gauff has pulled out of the Zhengzhou tournament.

In fact, the Chinese event has suffered a triple blow as second seed Elena Rybakina and fifth seed Karolina Muchova have also withdrawn due to injury.

World No 5 and 2022 Wimbledon champion Rybakina is nursing a lower back injury while French Open runner-up Muchova is struggling with a right wrist injury.

As a result, world No 6 Maria Sakkari is the highest-ranked player left in the main draw at Zhengzhou and she is followed by Ons Jabeur (seventh) and Caroline Garcia (10th)

The injured trio of Gauff, Rybakina and Muchova have all qualified for the WTA Finals and they will have a three-week break to get fully fit for the season-ending event, which gets underway on October 30 in Cancun, Mexico.

Gauff – who has climbed to a career-high No 3 in the WTA Rankings on the back of winning the US Open, Cincinnati Open and Citi DC Open – admitted during the China Open that she had already achieved her goals for the 2023 season, but believes she can up her level further.

“One of the goals that I set earlier in the year was for me to do well in the big events, do better on the 1000 level. I accomplished that goal. I’m really proud of myself,” she said.

“I think that I have a lot to improve on. So I think that’s what makes me excited for next year. After WTA Finals I have some more weeks to really practice and improve. I do notice, like, my game gets better every time I go through even like a two-week break of just practicing.”

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