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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday July 4, 2019

 
Dayana Yastremska

19-year-old Dayana Yastremska has a bright future on the grass, and that future could be now at Wimbledon.

Photo Source: @TheFanChild

Teenagers have made quite a few waves on the WTA Tour since late May. Three teens reached the second week of Roland Garros for the first time since 2009 at a major and two—Amanda Anisimova and Marketa Vondrousova—played on into the final weekend in Paris, with Anisimova nearly taking out Ash Barty in a wild semi-final and Vondrousova not dropping a set until she fell to Barty in the final.

Here at Wimbledon the teen du jour is 15-year-old Coco Gauff who became the youngest player to reach the third round at a major since 1996 on Wednesday, and Anisimova is still in the mix as well. But don’t sleep on 19-year-old Dayana Yastremska, the third highest-ranked teenager on the WTA Tour, and a blossoming player in her own right.

She was in fine form on Day 3 as she rallied past tenacious American Sofia Kenin in a tense battle that was up for grabs until the final two games of the third set.

It was in that third set, and particularly those final two games, that Yastremska shone the brightest.

The first thing that sticks out about the Ukrainian is her athleticism. It’s not hard at all to picture her with a javelin in her hands, or to imagine her flying above a set of hurdles with her ponytail suspended in the air.

Long and sinewy, Yastremska is both powerful and flexible, with good range of motion in her legs, hips and shoulders.

The second thing noticeable thing would be her mechanics. Yastremska's swings are full body cuts that are generated from the ground up, through her core and out. There’s no hitch, no hesitation--just pure, unadulterated power. Yastremska is a superior striker and it bodes well for her, because this forceful ground game will surely lay the groundwork for many victories.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

It’s about the kids.... — #dayanayastremska #wimbledon #instatennis

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Here is a kid that can take the racquet out her opponent’s hands, and if she can continue to develop other areas of her game, she has the potential to be great.

Yastremska has a long way to go in that regard. She’s bold and aggressive, but also can be reckless and too generous.

On Wednesday she showed signs of that generosity as she tossed in 46 errors against the stingy American, who was more than happy to use whatever she could get.

Kenin and her extremely impressive mental game were good enough to claim the middle set in this very close contest, and the American was right there with Yastremska in the third, but in the end it was the bravery of Yastremska, and her ability to seize the moment, which took her over the top.

Yastremska made 16 winners to just 1 for the American in the final set, and yet still the crafty counterpuncher Kenin found a way to stay on serve until 3-4 in the third.

It’s not always true that fortune favors the bold in tennis, but on this occasion it most certainly did. Yastremska put on a power tennis clinic in that eighth game, ripping a backhand return that Kenin couldn’t handle to get to 30-all before she hit a jaw-dropping forehand return from outside the tramlines for a ridiculous winner to earn a break point.

She converted the break, then she rained down bomb serves in the final game, holding at love to clinch the victory.

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If you want to experience the best of what Yastremska has to offer, watch the final seven points of her victory against Kenin. Then watch them again. The Ukrainian possesses a rare breed of athleticism, and on this day she summoned her most wicked assault for when it mattered most. She absolutely steamrolled Kenin in the final two games, taking seven points on the trot like a force of nature that would not be denied.

The sheer audacity of Yastremska's game is something to see, but pace and power was not all that was on offer on Day 3. Yastremska, who trains at the Justine Henin Tennis Academy and is coached by the Belgian Olivier Jeunehomme, showed an impressive amount of touch around the net as well.

This is an excellent sign for a player who is good enough to win a lot of matches using only one dimension. The added touch and finesse could enable Yastremska to take her game even higher.

She won 13 of 15 of her baseline approaches and employed the drop shot to great effect. This is an element of the game that could make Yastremska a real demon on grass. She’s clearly already comfortable moving and striking on the surface, but if she can learn to use her touch to exploit her backpedaling opponents more regularly, watch out.

Another thing I like about Yastremska on grass is that she doesn’t seem to be overthinking it. She simply plays her game and lets it take effect, rather than completely altering her tactical approach. From a technical standpoint, her aforementioned athleticism makes it easy for her to get low and still put plenty of mustard on her groundies. She’s flexible and, though thin, is quite muscular.

Grass challenges many players by forcing them to alter their technical setup. Different footwork and more knee bending doesn’t seem to bother Yastremska. It clearly never has, which is probably why she reached the Girls Singles final at Wimbledon in 2016.

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“I can keep my style of the game,” she told reporters on Monday after defeating Camila Giorgi at Wimbledon. “Just have to be a little bit faster, have to react faster, but I keep everything the same because my style I think is good for the grass.”

The bottom line is that Yastremska is a raw, and perhaps underdeveloped talent at this stage of her career. But the rare athleticism and her ability to summon the courage and seize the moments of a match are setting her up nicely for a bright future on grass, and at Wimbledon.

Could that future be now? Recent history says yes, there’s a chance for Yastremska, who faces Viktorija Golubic next and either Caroline Wozniacki or Zhang Shuai in the round of 16, to make a deep run here.

On Wednesday we learned that she has more than enough game. Later this week we’ll see if she has the poise that it takes.

No matter what happens, don’t sleep on this kid. Like 17-year-old Anisimova showed us in Roland Garros, anything is possible when you are a world-class ball-striker that isn’t cowed by the big stage.

“I don’t want to put a big goal and to put extra pressure,” she said. “I will just say that I will try to play my best game every match, and we will see. I will just try to enjoy the grass, enjoy the Grand Slam, enjoy myself on the court and being more positive.”

 

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