Coco Gauff told her US Open title level will not be enough to win a major in 2024

Ewan West
Coco Gauff hits a forehand in Doha
Coco Gauff in action in Doha

Esteemed coach Eric Riley believes Coco Gauff will have to improve on her 2023 US Open title-winning level and play better to win another Grand Slam title this year. 

Riley does not think the “quality of the work” Gauff produced to triumph at last year’s US Open will be enough to add to her major tally and feels the American now has a “target” on her back.

Gauff came from a set down to overcome Aryna Sabalenka in three sets in the final of the 2023 US Open in September to claim her maiden Grand Slam title.

At the 2024 Australian Open last month, Gauff was beaten in straight sets by world No 2 Sabalenka in the semi-finals. The Belarusian went on to defend her title in Melbourne.

In her first event since the Australian Open, the 19-year-old fell to a surprising 2-6, 4-6 defeat to world No 42 Katerina Siniakova in her opening match at the WTA 1000 event in Doha on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Coco Gauff’s 2024 tennis schedule: Which events are set to feature in 2023 US Open winner’s calendar?

Speaking on an episode of the Tennis Channel Inside-In podcast, Riley hailed Gauff’s Australian Open run, but argued the world No 3 must improve to win more Grand Slams.

“Now Coco won the US Open, and she followed it up with a Grand Slam semi right? That’s exceptional. It’s much easier to climb the ranks when you’re an underdog than when you’re expected to win,” he said.

“Obviously, Coco Gauff having Brad Gilbert in her corner, who’s an experienced coach, that’s really going to be good for them because he’s not going to let her slip.

“Because he understands that what won the US Open, the quality of the work she did to win the US Open [in 2023], is not going to win in 2024. It’s not going to win a major. So, Brad knows that and she’s going to have to play better this year and she’s going to have to improve.

“Which means she has to, like I said earlier, you gotta work on weaknesses, you gotta build confidence, you have to have purposeful practice where you’ve got to work your tail off because you’ve got a target on your back. It doesn’t get easy now, it gets harder.”

Riley coached both Pam Shriver and Lisa Raymond to Grand Slam titles in women’s doubles.

READ MORE: Darren Cahill and Brad Gilbert: the tennis super coaches guiding Jannik Sinner and Coco Gauff to glory