The world of pop music has perpetuated a familiar trope through the decades: the little girl with the big voice. Whitney Houston. Mariah Carey. Christina Aguilera. All three would easily conquer competitions of the “shut up and sing” variety. Their raw talent speaks – or rather, sings – for itself.
The world of tennis has a similar fascination. These little girls often have big voices as well, with big games to match. Raw talent in tennis can send a player soaring up the charts as quickly as a buzzworthy teen idol.
And yet there comes a point in tennis, as in music, that quantity becomes as important as quality. Any (auto)tune-carrying songstress can top the charts once, deliver a hook so undeniable that it becomes the song of the summer. But what happens when you wake up to find September’s end?
Enter Italy’s Camila Giorgi. The Cascada of tennis.
Believed to possess an arrhythmic style, such a read ignores the Italian’s intent. The 22-year-old plays a game that, when successfully executed, has the thudding efficiency of a German club anthem. Immediate winners are instant gratification, while the odd rally evokes dissonance mixed with anticipation. The crowd, the opponent, perhaps even Giorgi herself, all are waiting for the bass to drop.
And for better or worse, the hammer invariably comes down. Hard. When it hits, it is head-exploding power and precision. When it misses, the heart that was in your mouth crashes low in your gut. Confusion will suddenly spread through the stands. Did she mean to hit it that hard? after a ball hits the back fence. Eyes quickly fall on Giorgi, who looks unembarrassed and unfazed.
Camila Giorgi plays a game rooted in reckless defiance, yet such a combustible foundation hardly ever reads on her face. Father Sergio undoubtedly exudes enough emotion for the two of them. But in a sport replete with racquet-throwers and umpire reamers, Giorgi’s constant demeanor manages to complete the Camila Contradiction.
The talent emanating from her 5’6″ frame is self-evident. The Giorgi Game Plan allows for an agency of which her own compatriots – along with the average eighteenth century romance novel heroine – can only dream. Hers is an addictive hook that leaves inspired on-lookers literally emptying their wallets for more.
But in tennis, as in music, more is hardly ever guaranteed. Like those aforementioned Cascada anthems, the youngster plays a fun, but ultimately one-dimensional, game. Seeing Giorgi play the same way for nearly three hours makes you wonder how her father is issued coaching violations. What could he be possibly advising her, is it to hit the ball harder?
Indeed, the source of Giorgi’s inner calm likely stems from the Italian’s uncomplicated approach to tennis.
See ball, hit ball hard. Repeat.
At her best, she has taken out the likes of Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, and Victoria Azarenka. But even at her best, 53 winners are tempered by only a handful fewer errors and up to 17 double faults, all of which were struck with her signature indifference against Azarenka in Eastbourne. A master of absorbing and redirecting pace, Giorgi can hit with the best and struggle against the rest. Away from the spotlights of the windy seaport’s center court, the erratic Italian had to save a match point in her escape of hometown favorite Johanna Konta. Of her three big wins, this week marks the first that did not immediately precede a loss.
Through to the quarterfinals, she will face Wozniacki for the first time since the US Open encounter that made “Giorgi Girl” a star. The Dane’s scalp has arguably decreased in value since her fall from No. 1. Her game, by reputation, will have surrendered the initiative to the Italian before the coin toss. But for a dangerous floater with a “one hit wonder” approach to upsets, Wozniacki presents Giorgi with a rare opportunity to not only make a run to her first Premier semifinal, but also produce two hits in one week.
The tennis world knows what Caroline Wozniacki is going to bring to the court this afternoon and, though it may be inclined to think the opposite, it actually knows what Camila Giorgi will bring as well.
What remains to be seen is whether the Italian will execute, and shed the “one hit wonder” mantle once and for all.