Jessica Pegula explains why Coco Gauff is ‘definitely a favourite’ for US Open and ‘the future of the sport’

Shahida Jacobs
Coco Gauff ecstatic
A delighted Coco Gauff celebrates her title win

Confidence and momentum are two key reasons why Coco Gauff is one of the favourites to win this year’s US Open, according to Jessica Pegula.

Gauff heads into the season-ending Grand Slam as one of the form players on the WTA Tour as she won the Citi DC Open at the start of August and capped off her US Open preparation by winning the biggest title of her career, Cincinnati Open.

En route to winning her maiden WTA 1000 title in Ohio, the teenager claimed her first win in eight attempts over Iga Swiatek as she defeated the world No 1 in three sets in the semi-final.

Her recent run of form came on the back of a disappointing Wimbledon campaign where she slumped to a first-round defeat and her doubles partner Pegula feels the 19-year-old’s “hunger” to improve have helped her to up her game.

“I think definitely that Wimbledon loss seemed to really drive her to want to improve and get better,” world No 3 Pegula said. “I think she came out of that really hungry, which is great to see from somebody that already has a lot of success at such a young age. Already has a long journey ahead of her. To see her bounce back from that was really promising.

“Obviously going to DC, I played her in Montreal. I think she said it kind of helped her, she thinks, ‘beat Iga because I beat her, then I beat Iga’. That’s how it works sometimes on tour, when you see your friends or your coworkers, whatever you want to call them, having success, you’ve maybe beaten them, whatever it is, it can give you a lot of confidence going into another week where you’re in that situation.

“I’m glad that it seemed like she got confidence from that week, as well, and was able to take it into Cincinnati. I think she’s really confident. When any player is confident, that’s when they’re toughest to beat.”

Gauff will take on Laura Siegemund in the first round at Flushing Meadows on Monday, but she has been handed a tricky draw as she could face 11th seed Petra Kvitova in the fourth round while she is projected to meet defending champion and top seed Swiatek in the quarter-final.

Pegula, though, feels her compatriot will thrive on the crowd support.

She added: “I know she loves playing with a crowd. Yeah, I think she’s definitely a favourite for this. I think there’s a lot of favourites, but yeah, especially her, her and the crowd, coming off a lot of momentum, it’s big.

“It’s been really nice to see. I’m glad she’s been improving and learning. She’s the future of the sport, so… It’s nice to see.”

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