Wimbledon star training at UK’s cheapest gym set for Coco Gauff showdown – EXCLUSIVE | Tennis | Sport

Sonay Kartal is preparing to play the biggest match of her career as she faces world No. 2 Coco Gauff on Court 1 at Wimbledon. The British qualifier had never won a match at tour level before this week but finds herself in the third round after beating two top-50 opponents.

While most players train at top facilities reserved for elite athletes, the world No. 298 is a regular at one of the UK’s cheapest high-street gyms and chooses to snub “better facilities” for the chain.

Although Kartal’s life looks set to change after her run at SW19, she told Express Sport that she is still planning to keep her membership once her Wimbledon campaign is over.

“I mean, I gym there for a reason. I quite like that environment,” the 22-year-old said after beating Clara Burel in the second round. “Obviously, you know, I have different facilities, up at National Tennis Centre gyms and I also go to another gym as well.

“Sometimes I just like to, it’s nice to go somewhere where it’s just completely not tennis and just completely different environment, fun environment. So that’s my choice, that one.” Kartal currently flies under the radar at the budget gym, where she often shares Instagram selfies from the spinning studio.

But that could change after her prime-time match against Gauff on the second-biggest showcourt at Wimbledon. Either way, she doesn’t want to stop working out there. The British No. 9 continued: “I think I will [still go there], if it’s possible.

“I’m not one to change anything. There’s a reason why I still train at the same club and have choices to train elsewhere at better facilities but I like my home comforts and I like to do what makes me happy so if I’m still capable I’ll probably still train there, yeah.”

Kartal’s boyfriend is also a keen gym-goer as he competes in strongman competitions. But the Wimbledon qualifier doesn’t join him for his intense, heavy weight-lifting workouts. “We don’t gym together at all,” she explained. “I don’t lift cars and pull cars and things like that. Tennis is very specific training whereas he is just lifting as much weight as possibly as physically you can.”

It’s no surprise Kartal wants to continue her daily routines at home after Wimbledon. The world No. 298 feels as though her run hasn’t changed her but she’s well aware that the attention could increase ten-fold if she pulls off the upset against US Open champion Gauff.

She added: “I still feel like the same me that I was this morning when I woke up. I kind of go under the radar a little bit so I’m hoping it kind of stays that way but I’m aware that big wins, that’s what happens ultimately. I think I’m still pretty focused and I haven’t really let any outside things or noise or anything get to me yet.”

Whether or not Kartal can pass the Gauff test, she has already ticked off several huge career achievements at Wimbledon. She got her first top 100 win over No. 99-ranked Erica Andreeva in the last round of qualies and then stunned 29th seed Sorana Cirstea in the first round of the main draw for her biggest-ever victory.

Thanks to her efforts, Kartal has guaranteed at least £143k in prize money and 130 ranking points. But don’t be surprised if you see her on a bench next to you in the gym once the Wimbledon fortnight is over.

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