World

Thanks to the new coach, Coco Gauff prepared in the middle of a sentence for the US Open final

After her exit from Wimbledon in the first round, which left her nervous and frustrated, Coco Gauff made sweeping changes.

She changed her attitude and her coaching staff.

At her next tournament – the Citi DC Open – she compared it to building a house.

Now?

The sport’s hottest player in the US Open quarterfinals is the new favorite to win at Flushing Meadows.

“Still under construction,” Gauff said as she prepared to face Jalena Ostapenko at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.

The expected heat – forecasts of 90 degrees – are playing into the hands of the Florida teenager.

And the same goes for her own game: 15-1 since she added Brad Gilbert to her coaching staff.

Gauff, just 19, and newly hired coach Pere Riba brought in Gilbert – who had mentored Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray – as an adviser for a dry run.

Since?

He’s become an integral part of Gauff’s all-time best run.


A new coach in Brad Gilbert has ensured Coco Gauff looks more prepared than ever for her first major.
A new coach in Brad Gilbert has ensured Coco Gauff looks more prepared than ever for her first major.
Larry Marano

Her recent form has Gauff the betting favorite for the title, and icons Chris Evert and Jon McEnroe have both named her the next American to win a Grand Slam.

“I see a different Coco Gauff and with the new team, with Brad Gilbert on the team giving her some expert advice – he’s been one of the most successful coaches out there in the last 30 years – it has given her an edge that she had .” “I’ve never experienced that before,” said Evert. “Her attitude and confidence has now grown to the point where she … now believes she can win it.”

For good reason.

Gauff sent on Caroline Wozniacki while No.1 Iga Swiatek, No.3 Jess Pegula and No.5 Ons Jabeur all lost within 24 hours of the draw opening.

Can she make Ostapenko – who beat her in Australia – the next step in her career?

“With Jelena, she is a ball striker. To be honest, she’s hot or cold,” Gauff said. “Maybe I’ll get a few more free points with her, more than with Iga; maybe not. Maybe she meets so many winners.”

Gauff’s defense, strength and lunges were all impressive.

But perhaps most promising was their determination to come from behind in two of their four games.

“She fights to be perfect every day, including in practice,” Gilbert said on ESPN. “The most important thing to being great is learning how to win when you’re average. … If you accept that but know how to compete – so long [playing] average – accept it as it is, but move on.

“That’s not how you lose. Sometimes when you expect it to work and it doesn’t, you can’t find a way to win. She told me a couple of times, “I never used to win this match.” “She wouldn’t find a way out of these situations.”

In essence, Gilbert conveyed his motto, “Winning Ugly,” to his new protégé. She raves about his “incredible” scouting reports and has embraced his lessons – at least some of them.


Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in action against Iga Swiatek.
Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in action against Iga Swiatek.
Getty Images

Coco Gauff reacts against Caroline Wozniacki and moves into the quarterfinals of the US Open.
Coco Gauff reacts against Caroline Wozniacki and moves into the quarterfinals of the US Open.
Robert Sabo for NY Post

“To be honest, I was scared of being with the older person before I met Brad. He’s older but he still has the mind of a 20-year-old, maybe even younger, sometimes a 10-year-old,” Gauff said, laughing. “He played every match with a Jolly Rancher in his mouth. He used to give me Jolly Ranchers all the time. I take them but I don’t eat them.

“He also sent me crazy playlists of bands from the ’60s and ’70s, but I couldn’t keep up.”

But she’s kept her level, the first American to reach the quarterfinals here as a teenager since 1999-2001, and Serena Williams – who inspired a generation of black girls like Gauff, just as Gauff is doing now.

“The long-term impact is huge, the ripple effect over 20 years,” Martin Blackman, GM of player development at USTA, told The Post. “I began to see a gradual increase in the number of African American girls in camps. If you ask them who your favorite player is… why do you love tennis? “Serena. Venus.’

“So let’s get Sloane [Stephens] and Madison [Keys]and then we get the next generation of Coco and Clervie [Ngounoue] and Robin Montgomery. So it is very fortunate that we have this ripple effect and it will continue.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button