Coco Gauff sets up Naomi Osaka blockbuster clash, but confident hype won’t impact her game
The Western & Southern Open will play host to Naomi Osaka v Coco Gauff on Wednesday and the latter is confident she can now deal with the hype that comes with the big matches.
Gauff brushed aside Hsieh Su-wei of Chinese Taipei 6-1, 6-2 in the opening round to set up an encounter with four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka.
The American broke twice in the opening set and three times in the second, although Hsieh managed one break of her own in the second set.
— wta (@WTA) August 17, 2021
The attention, though, quickly shifted to her second-round clash against the world No 2, who will return to WTA Tour action for the first time since withdrawing from the French Open.
It will be the pair’s third head-to-head match with Osaka winning their first meeting at the 2019 US Open before Gauff got revenge at the Australian Open the following year with victory in the third round.
Asked if the buzz has an impact on her, the 17-year-old replied: “I will say in the past it [the buzz] did impact how I played, especially during the US Open match. It definitely had an impact. But I think I learned from that experience as it was the first match for me with all the hype and everything affected me.
“It was different against Venus [at Wimbledon in 2019] because before the match no one expected me to do well so there was no pressure. At the US Open match [against Osaka] people expected a great match and it was a great match, but the score was not so entertaining for other people.
“I will say that it did affect me then, but I needed that experience to help me. Now when I go into these matches I know to turn off the phone or not focus on what other people say. You are out there on the court and everything you do on the court is what I think is best in that moment. For me I try my best just by focusing on myself.”
The teenager believes she now knows how to deal with the pressure ahead and during the blockbuster encounters.
“I definitely did learn a lot from both matches [against Osaka],” Gauff said. “The second match, I learned that I can perform well under the pressure, and that I do have a lot more fun on the court when I try not to focus on the expectations of other people and myself, whereas I didn’t really find that I guess balance until that Australian Open match.”
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