Player Focus: Emerson Jones (Australia)

AUSTRALIAN young gun Emerson Jones captured the hearts of the green and gold fans at Melbourne Park as the 15-year-old made it to the junior Grand Slam final. Though she ultimately fell short of ultimate glory to the incredible Renata Jamrichova, her performance through the tournament was outstanding. In this piece, we take a look at Jones in detail and what she showed throughout the Australian Open.


Jones is a right-handed baseliner with a double-handed backhand, which allows additional control on her non dominant side. Though not a powerful server, Jones has a wicked and potent forehand that underpins her game and wins her a lot of points.


Put simply, Jones has a strong serve, but not a powerful one. In other words, what helps her on serve is her placement within the box and being able to put balls on awkward angles for the opposition, forcing them out of court and making the player up the other end of the court desperately try and put the ball back in the court. That allows Jones to dictate the rally and get it on her terms, running around the opponent.

In terms of her speed, Jones is definitely on the slower side. While American Coco Gauff topped the WTA fastest serve leaderboard with a 200kph-plus bomb, the Australian’s fastest came in at 162kmh, with her average at 146kmh. That might prove a problem against opponents who can win free points off their serve, but her court IQ to place balls into the right spots helps. Her second serve average of 127.7 is definitely more of a security blanket, forcing the opposition to play a ball rather than give away a cheap point off a double fault.

Due to her court placement with her serves, the speed is not so much affecting her at junior level, but it will be an area she can further improve for the future, particularly once on the senior WTA Tour.


First Serve: 70.1%
First Serve won: 62.5%
Second Serve won: 44.7%
Fastest Serve: 162kmh
First Serve ave: 146kmh
2nd Serve ave: 127.7kmh
Aces (ave): 1.3
Double faults (ave): 3.8
Saved Break Points: 43.9%


As Jones is not a player who can purely rely on her service games to win, she has developed a dangerous return game capable of breaking opponents. She showed that with a 50 per cent break point conversion rate, and winning 43.3 per cent of her receiving points in the process. Those kind of numbers paint a picture of a player who would not be too worried if broken on serve, as she is almost a 50/50 chance of breaking back.

As most of her returns off the backhand side are flat or top spin, she gets a lot of balls back in court, and when the opponent puts it to her dangerous forehand, she is in business. In particular, a slower second serve from the opponent to her forehand side is just asking for trouble, and she averaged 2.5 return winners per game among a total of 21 per match across the six matches.

She can be prone to making errors, but like many players, her unforced error count usually mimics her winners count. If she is going for her shots and pushing the boundaries, she will hit a lot of winners, but also make mistakes. When playing conservatively, she will make minimal errors, but also generate less winners. Jones is at her best when she can generate winners though, so accepting errors will come with the chance of victory against more powerful players is a way of life.


Winners (ave): 21 (+17 total differential)
Unforced Errors (ave): 33.6 (-31 total differential)
Break Point Conversions: 50%
Net Points: 66.7%
Receiving Points: 43.3%

Emerson Jones celebrates winning her Australian Open Junior Girls semi-final. Image credit: Hiroshi Sato


The star element in her game, Jones’ forehand is a joy to watch. It’s action is smooth and powerful, and she is able to utilise it in many different ways. Not too dissimilar to what fans would have seen of Jannik Sinner in the men’s final, Jones has a depth to her forehand which makes both her flat and topspin shots highly effective.

When the opponent can put some speed on the ball, Jones is at her most dangerous, as she can return with interest and hit winners with ease off the forehand wing. For a junior, her ability to deliver brutal winners both crosscourt and down the line makes her such a valuable player. This aspect of her game, compared with her court IQ allows her to do a lot of damage off that side.


Jones’ backhand is still a work in progress, but throughout the tournament it was clear that the more balls she hit, the more confident she was. Given it is her non-dominant side, the right-hander is more than comfortable hitting flat backhands that can produce winners, but unlike her forehand, a lot of balls with speed – particularly deep at her feet – did pose a problem for the 15-year-old.

Her backhand topspin was okay but she is vulnerable in that area as it is more of a return-to-court shot rather than one that will pile up significant winners. Her backhand slice – like many young players – is of similar ilk, with a lot of attempts from the baseline falling short into the net. However closer to the court such as midcourt, Jones was more consistent with the shot as she was able to drop it over the net without needing to generate power.


Jones has great court coverage, and she is able to chase down balls a lot of other player could not. She recovers well within points, and though as mentioned above some shots can leave her vulnerable to opponents with power and accuracy, the Australian is more than capable of staying in longer rallies. She does not always finish off points quickly, but has a strong endurance base.

Her higher court IQ allows her to have a strong understanding of which shot to play and where to place it, and therefore aside from deep on her backhand side, more often than not, Jones is able to turn defence into offence.


Jones is not a predominant approach player, usually doing her best work from the baseline and aiming to dictate rallies. She did win two thirds of the points when approaching the net, and though in her first round match she lost all three net points, was more than comfortable after that winning 20 of 27 across her next five matches.

If she can dictate the point and force a high ball from the opponent close to the net, Jones has the smarts to get to the drop and put away a smash winner comfortably.


Not everything went Jones’ way throughout the tournament, as she had to play two three-set matches where she lost the first set in both. Sometimes she had to work her way into the game before hitting her best form, but impressively the Queenslander remained calm throughout the matches and was not too bothered by the scoreline.

Though like any tennis player she might show signs of frustration at herself, it importantly did not let it impact her game, which can often be the case with a lot of younger players who are desperate to win in order to move up the world rankings. For the most part, Jones has an incredibly calm demeanour which is a credit to her.


Key Strengths:

– Forehand flat
– Forehand topspin
– Forehand explosiveness
– First serve placement
– Court IQ
– Backhand flat
– Minimal errors

Key Improvements:

– Backhand slice (particularly deep against speed)
– Backhand topspin placement
– First serve power
– Second serve


Emerson Jones is definitely one of the more exciting young talents that has come through the Tennis Australia pathway in recent years. She has drawn comparisons to Ash Barty given Jones won a J500 as a 15-year-old, the first Australian to do so since Barty, much like becoming the first Aussie Grand Slam finalist since the former number one.

Though comparisons to the star Grand Slam champion are premature and can add unnecessary pressure, Jones’ calm demeanour and laid back attitude allows her to play each match on her merits and just become the best player she can be. The most exciting element is the fact she has that major forehand weapon – which would worry even the best of WTA Tour opponents – and the rest she can develop to add extra strings to her bow.

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