Andy Roddick makes bold Federer, Nadal, Serena Williams and Coco Gauff point

Andy Roddick praised Coco Gauff’s US Open title win and thinks it came at a crucial time for the sport as some of tennis’ biggest icons bid farewell after decades of dominance in the past year.

Serena Williams played the final match of her illustrious career at the 2022 US Open, while 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer hung up his racket less than a month later. Although fellow legends Rafael Nadal and Venus Williams remain active, their age and injuries are catching up with them and their exit from tennis may not be too far away.

As the sport looks to the next generation for new stars, Gauff, who has been tipped for superstardom since she defeated Venus at Wimbledon in 2019, broke through to capture the US Open for her first Grand Slam title. Following her remarkable comeback victory over the hard-hitting Aryna Sablenka in the final, Roddick — the last American man to win at Flushing Meadows in 2003 — made a bold point regarding the significance of Gauff’s win.

“I was one of the dummies who questioned whether there would be a vacuum in tennis post-Roger and Rafa and Serena, so the timing of Coco Gauff’s win couldn’t have been better, especially here in the U.S.,” the former World No. 1 wrote in his Betway column. “Venus and Serena were Coco’s idols, so to announce herself on the Grand Slam stage in the first year of the US Open after Serena’s retirement – a tournament where we saw Serena carry the public interest for a couple of decades – is pretty poetic.”

Gauff entered the final major of the year under enormous pressure, especially after capturing the Washington and Cincinnati titles before heading to New York. But she embraced it and overcame some tough tests before defeating Sabalenka 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in just over two hours to secure the biggest win of her career.

The 19-year-old’s elite movement, athleticism and defensive abilities were the foundation on which her comeback was built. She forced the Belarusian into making some mistakes as she struggled to control her emotions and deal with the U.S. crowd backing Gauff.

Roddick assessed the teenager’s performance and her ability to change her game plan to turn the match around. “She didn’t play her best every single match, including the final, so the most impressive thing to me was the adjustment in strategy and turning her average days into three-set wins,” the former Wimbledon finalist added.

“She tried to go more toe-to-toe with Aryna Sabalenka in the first set and realised that wasn’t going to work, so she needed to make her hit as many shots as possible and rely on her legs. She went with the mentality of saying, ‘I’m going to be a volume shooter, you’re going to have to beat me four or five times in a rally and I’m going to bring 25,000 of my closest friends into this match, too.’

“It seemed to be a little too much for Sabalenka, who deserves credit for being the new No.1 in the world. It’s not the US Open title that she wanted, but it’s a hell of a consolation prize.” There are many people Gauff has thanked for her success, one of which is new coach Brad Gilbert. 

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Following her early exit from Wimbledon, Gauff began to work with Gilbert and Pere Riba to enhance her aggressive playing style, particularly on the forehand to make it more of a weapon. That’s exactly what they did and Roddick was very pleased to see his former coach guide one of tennis’ brightest talents to Grand Slam glory, especially in such a short timeframe.

“I also couldn’t be happier for my old coach Brad Gilbert,” the tennis legend added. “I’m sure there were times where he questioned whether he was going to coach again, especially someone that had the potential to win a Grand Slam, but I’m not at all surprised by the success that he’s had with Coco.

“I think he’d been running a lot of those parallels with me from 20 years ago, but the difference is that she’s not going to stop at one. There are dominant forces in women’s tennis, but I don’t think three players are going to win 66 of the next however many Slams, so there’s a much better runway for her.”

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