Coco Gauff: ‘I feel like I’m rising to the occasion’

Coco Gauff

Coco Gauff feels that she has been rising to the occasion in big matches of late and is shedding some of her bad habits on court.

Gauff said that she felt herself slipping back into a negative and self-critical mindset during her match against Aryna Sabalenka at the Cincinnati Masters but was able to pull up in time.

She believes that she is getting better at recognising a slip into the old mentality.

“I was reverting back to old mentalities,” Gauff said.

“I got to a point where I was being too negative on myself. And I said if I was going to lose, I’m not going to lose like this.

“So I had to change. And that’s what I did.”

Gauff recognises that if she wants to win a Grand Slam she will have to find a way to get the better of top players like Sabalenka.

“These are the type of players I need to have to beat if I want to win a Grand Slam,” Gauff told reporters.

“So these matches are giving me more confidence. For me I needed these matches leading up into the US Open. I think you guys can see on my forehand and my serve there’s definitely been a drastic improvement.

“I think that right now I feel like I’m rising to the occasion. Whereas before I felt like I was almost crumbling to the pressure because I was trying to deflect it.”

Gauff also commented on the retirement of Serena Williams, crediting the legend for inspiring her to take up tennis.

“I mean that’s the reason why I play tennis.

“Because I saw somebody who looked like me dominating the game. It made me believe that I could dominate, too.

“She is just so competitive on the court. I have never seen her give up.

“Even now, when she is coming back from having a child, it is amazing to see that she is still strong. I like her serve, her forehand, her aggressiveness. She has proven that she relies on that and it is allowing her to win.

“I want to exactly copy that.”

Gauff admits that she has leaned too heavily on her ability to chase down balls in the past and hopes to show greater control and cutting edge going forward.

“I feel like everybody knows I’m fast,” Gauff said.

“I’m not trying to be cocky, but it’s the truth. And I know that, too. I think sometimes I just go and just put the ball on the court because I know I can run it down. That was my old mentality.

“But now I think I’m trying to take my chances more and be more aggressive. Because playing that way would definitely get me quarterfinals or fourth round in Slams. But to get to that final moment you need to take care of those details. I think I’m slowly taking care of those details.”

Gauff will open her US Open campaign against a qualifier to be determined this weekend.