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Coco Gauff’s career overhaul pays off at US Open

After a first-round elimination at Wimbledon that left her confused and frustrated, Coco Gauff has made some significant changes.

She changed her mentality and her coaching staff.

At her very next tournament – ​​at the Citi DC Open – she likened it to building a house.


The sport’s hottest player in the US Open quarter-finals is the new favorite to win it all at Flushing Meadows.

“Still under construction,” Gauff said as she prepared to face Jalena Ostapenko on Tuesday afternoon at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The expected heat – forecast for 90 degrees – plays into the Florida teenager’s game.

Much like his own game, 15-1 since adding Brad Gilbert to his coaching staff.

Gauff, just 19, and newly hired coach Pere Riba brought in Gilbert – who had mentored Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray – as a consultant on a trial.


He is now an integral part of Gauff’s best running.

A new coach in the person of Brad Gilbert has made Coco Gauff look more prepared than ever for her first major tournament.
larry marano

Her recent form has made Gauff the betting favorite to win the title, and icons Chris Evert and Jon McEnroe have both named her as the next American to win a Grand Slam.

“I see a different Coco Gauff, and with the new team, with Brad Gilbert on the team giving her expert advice – he’s been one of the most accomplished coaches in the last 30 years – that gave an edge she didn’t have. “I haven’t done that before,” Evert said. “Her attitude and confidence have grown to the point where… she now believes she can win. “

With reason.

Gauff dispatched Caroline Wozniacki while No.1 Iga Swiatek, No.3 Jess Pegula and No.5 Ons Jabeur all lost in the 24 hours that saw the draw open.

Can she make Ostapenko – who beat her in Australia – the next rung on her ladder?

“With Jelena, she is a ball striker. She’s hot or cold, to be honest,” Gauff said. “I could get more free points with her, more than with Iga; maybe not. Maybe she will hit as many winners.

Gauff’s defense, power and lungs have all been impressive.

But perhaps most auspicious was his courage, rallying after a set in two of his four matches.

“She fights to be perfect every day, even in training,” Gilbert told ESPN. “The most important thing to being great is learning how to win when you’re average. … If you accept that, but you know how to compete – while [playing] average – accept that it is what it is, but move on.

“You don’t lose like that. Sometimes when you expect things to turn out this way and they don’t, you can’t find a way to win. She told me several times: ‘Before, I never won this match.’ She would not be able to get out of these situations.

Essentially, Gilbert passed on his “Winning Ugly” motto to his new protege. She reveled in his “incredible” reports of recognition and took up his teachings – at least some of them.

Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in action against Iga Swiatek.
Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in action against Iga Swiatek.
Getty Images

Coco Gauff reacts to Caroline Wozniacki, advancing to the quarter-finals of the US Open.
Coco Gauff reacts to Caroline Wozniacki, advancing to the quarter-finals of the US Open.
Robert Sabo for the NY Post

“To be honest, I was scared to be with the older person before I met Brad. He’s older, but he still has the mind of a 20-year-old, maybe even younger, sometimes a 10-year-old,” Gauff said with a laugh. “He played every game with a Jolly Rancher in his mouth. He gives me Jolly Ranchers all the time. I take them but I don’t eat them.

“He also sends me crazy playlists of bands from the 60s and 70s, but I haven’t followed them.”

But she maintained her level, being the first American to reach back-to-back quarter-finals here as a teenager since 1999-2001 and Serena Williams – who inspired a generation of black girls like Gauff, in the same way that Gauff did the done now.

“The long-term impact is huge, the ripple effect over 20 years,” USTA general manager of player development Martin Blackman told The Post. “I started to see a gradual increase in the number of African American girls in the camps. If you ask them what is your favorite player… why do you like tennis? ‘Serena. Venus.’

“So we have Sloane [Stephens] and madison [Keys]and then we get the next generation of Coco and Clervie [Ngounoue] and Robin Montgomery. So we are very lucky to be able to benefit from this ripple effect and it will continue. »

New York Post

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