‘Pusher’ Brad Gilbert explains why he is not worried about one Coco Gauff ‘flaw’

Coco Gauff US Open

Coco Gauff’s forehand has certainly been one of the biggest talking points in recent weeks yet that perceived weakness stood up at the US Open and her coach Brad Gilbert sees no reason to make drastic changes to her style of play.

The teenager won her maiden Grand Slam when she beat world No 1 in waiting Aryna Sabalenka in three sets in the final at Flushing Meadows on Saturday. Gauff struggled to come to grips with Sabalenka’s raw power in the first set, but she soon started to find her rhythm and fears that the forehand would malfunction and result in defeat proved to be unfounded.

That had been the theme during the North American hard-court swing as there were a lot of question marks over the American’s ability to win big tournaments, but she proved the doubters wrong as she first won the Citi DC Open and then followed it up with the Cincinnati Open title before winning her maiden Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows.

Renowned coach Gilbert joined Gauff’s coaching team at the beginning of August and he received a lot of unsolicited advice about her forehand in recent weeks, but the veteran insists he is “not worried”.

“You can’t just change a grip without changing the arc of the swing, so that’s a big change,” he told WTA. “My guess is, from what we’ve seen, we don’t need to.

“When I started with Andy Murray [in 2006], everybody was telling me, ‘He’s just a pusher.’ And yet he wins.

“Everybody mentions the forehand criticism about Coco, and yet she wins. I’m certainly not worried about it in any way, shape or form.”

Gilbert has worked with some of the sport’s greats as he coached former world No 1s Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray with the former two winning Grand Slams under his tutelage while he and Murray parted ways before the Scot went on to win his first major.

So Gilbert is no stranger to working with rising stars and he knows how to “fix” things, but that doesn’t mean his biggest priority is to completely change Gauff’s forehand as he has helped her in other ways.

“I never got so many texts for so many days, saying `Fix her forehand!’ ” he revealed. “Man, you don’t just fix something like that on the fly. I just felt like there were some little small changes that were very workable.

“Like returning serve from a lot deeper position. Sometimes using a little more shape on shots. Playing using your legs a little bit more. Footwork. Serve a little bigger at times. Decision-making.”

And while Gilbert’s coaching from his “gut and feel” helped Gauff to overcome Sabalenka in the US Open final, Gauff also deserves credit for “problem-solving”.

“I coach from my gut. I coach from feel,” he said. “But there are a lot of things I learn when I watch matches. And players adjust. Those are some of the things the analytics don’t tell you.

“They give you all this data, but they don’t factor in a player’s strengths and weaknesses. And that the other player might do something different, other than what the data says.”

Gilbert added: “But she did a lot of amazing problem-solving, she was incredibly resilient. Against Sabalenka, I feel like the match really changed at 1-all deuce in the third set, when Coco hit a backhand crosscourt pass and the crowd erupted. And you could kind of see on the changeover that things were changing a little bit.

“And then she got a break in the next game and the first lead in the match and the crowd kind of went crazy again. And then, all of sudden, in your mind there’s a way back now.”

READ MORE: Coco Gauff’s tennis schedule for the remainder of 2023: When is the US Open champion competing next…