Coco Gauff is America's greatest hope at the US Open

US Open: Coco Gauff is America’s greatest hope after hitting form at the right time… but the teenager is well aware that it won’t last forever

  • Gauff is flying in hardcourt season after teaming with Pere Riba and Brad Gilbert
  • The 19-year-old says a few tweaks upstairs have made a world of difference
  • provides all the latest international sports news 

Coco Gauff knows the dip will come. She is under no illusions that the wave – which has carried her to two hard-court titles in three weeks – will crash sooner or later. 

‘It’s going to happen,’ Gauff says. All the 19-year-old asks? ‘Not this week,’ she says with a smile. Not when she arrives at the US Open as one of the favorites to land the title.

The No 6 seed, still a teenager, is one of nearly two-dozen US women in the main draw. She isn’t even the highest seed from these shores – that honor goes to Jessica Pegula (3). 

But Gauff is the American player generating the most hope and the most hype heading into this year’s tournament in New York. No matter that she has never gone past the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows. No matter that her last Grand Slam – at Wimbledon – ended in the first round. Gauff has found form at the right time. She might have found the right team, too. 

Under new pairing, Pere Riba and Brad Gilbert, the 19-year-old is flying. Her record during this hardcourt season reads: 11 wins, one defeat, two titles.

Coco Gauff is under no illusions that the wave she is currently riding will soon come to an end

Gauff is the American generating the most hype heading into the US Open, despite her last Grand Slam appearance at Wimbledon ending in the first round

The 19-year-old is flying now in the hardcourt season after teaming up with new coaches

Gauff won her first WTA 500 title in Washington and then her first WTA 1000 title in Cincinnati. The next domino to fall could be her first Grand Slam. 

And yet, the 19-year-old insists, little has changed. No great rethink, no huge overhaul. Instead, a few tweaks upstairs have made a world of difference. 

Some improvements have come from experience. ‘I know I’m up right now, and I know I’m going to experience a down,’ Gauff said on Friday. ‘I think that’s really where the mindset has changed. Sometimes I’ll let a loss get too much into me. I realize that everybody loses, even the best of the best.’ 

Some have come from defeat. ‘Having like that first-round loss (to Sofia Kenin) at Wimbledon shows that it wasn’t really as bad as it could happen. So I’m not going into this tournament worried if I lose early or not.’ 

Plenty of change has come from victory. ‘I learned a lot over this last couple weeks – more so on my wins I think than I have in the past,’ she added. ‘The most I’ve learned over the course of this summer is that I don’t have to play A-plus tennis to win. Obviously going into the match, you hope to play the best tennis you can play, but it’s not possible all the time… sometimes I think when I wasn’t playing my best tennis or wasn’t playing great, I would kind of shut down a little bit mentally. Now I’m just figuring it out as I go.’ 

Plenty has come from Gilbert, too – from his experience and his light touch. ‘People can say you play good or the opposite, but I think hearing it from someone who… (has) worked with some of the best players in the game, I think you just really believe it,’ Gauff said. ‘I don’t think the message has changed for me, it’s more about how the message was relayed to me.’ 

And that might mean a timely dose of humor. ‘Sometimes I’ll be practicing… it’s 30-All or deuce, he’ll say something completely random like a joke or something,’ Gauff added. ‘It’s just little things like that, that made me realize that tennis is serious but it’s not as serious as sometimes my head makes it out to be… he’s really gotten me to have fun in those tough moments and embrace the hardships of tennis.’ 

New pairing Pere Riba (left) and Brad Gilbert have led her to 11 victories and two titles

Gauff says a few tweaks upstairs have made a world of difference for her on the court

Gauff is slated to face defending champion Iga Swiatek in the quarterfinals at the US Open

The next fortnight is sure to test those new bonds and new techniques. Gauff is slated to face defending champion Iga Swiatek in the quarterfinals. After seven straight defeats, Gauff finally beat the world No 1 in Cincinnati. No wonder the teenager talks of having more confidence than before recent US Opens.

But life as the ‘future of the sport’ – as Pegula branded her on Friday – brings plenty of responsibility, too. On Friday night, Gauff will attend a gala to toast 50 years of equal pay at the US Open. ‘I’m really happy to be a part of that,’ she said. ‘We have a long way to go.’ 

Citing tournaments this summer, she added: ‘My matches were pretty much more crowded or the same as some of the top seeds on the men’s side. I don’t think it’s an attraction issue.’ 

Shortly after, she nimbly avoided controversy when asked about the possibility of the WTA Finals heading to Saudi Arabia. The teenager discussed her aspirations in business, too. And then came a reminder of what can happen when young players are forced to shoulder the weight of expectation. 

Six years ago, Gauff lost the junior final here to Amanda Anisimova, who at 21 has recently taken indefinite leave from tennis. ‘I can understand, really. There are probably a lot of players who need to take a break who don’t,’ she said. ‘Maybe one day I’ll need to take a break, I don’t know.’ 

Gauff added: ‘She was always considered to be the next thing. I can really understand the pressure that she’s probably felt… people forget that she’s human, athletes are human.’ 

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