Also, look a little deeper and the clay may give Gauff as many advantages as it takes away. At 5-foot-9, Gauff is around the average height among top players these days, but she has long legs. That can help her cover a lot of ground with just a few quick steps, but it can make balls that stay low on grass and hardcourts a tad more difficult for her.

If there has been a common thread in Gauff’s first three matches, it’s how well positioned she has so often been. The balls hit the clay and bounce right into her strike zone, giving her a series of belt-high fastballs that she can tee off on, while taking advantage of the extra split second the clay gives her to set her feet or slide into position.

Always aggressive and hunting for forehands, she will inevitably make her share of errors, but so far she has hit more winners than unforced errors, which is always a good sign for any player. She has also rarely appeared off balance.

“I really enjoy sliding,” she said. “I think it helps me recover faster after I get to the ball. Then also, I mean, I play pretty heavy on my forehand, so I think that clay bounces the ball up even higher.”

For her part, Anisimova, 20, also spent most of her childhood in Florida, but she said she grew more comfortable on the clay largely by playing a lot of junior tournaments in Latin American countries, where red clay is also far more common than it is in the United States.

Anisimova is a dangerous returner, able to punish the slower serves, especially with her near-lethal backhand. She also knows her footwork and movement may be the weakest part of her still-developing game, and the longer points on clay inevitably require her to cover more ground. The clay makes her weakness a little less weak.

“It gives me more time,” she said of the clay after her win over Muchova. “Hard courts sometimes can be a bit too quick.”



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