Home » ‘I Feel More Free After US Open Win… Focused on the Australian Open’, Says Coco Gauff

‘I Feel More Free After US Open Win… Focused on the Australian Open’, Says Coco Gauff

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Coco Gauff after winning the Auckland Open 2024 (Credit: Twitter)

Having rebounded from a shocking first-round exit at Wimbledon to winning a breakthrough major title at the very next major in New York has helped with a shift in mindset, says Gauff

Now that the pressure to win a Grand Slam singles title as a teenager is over, Coco Gauff feels liberated enough to discuss her next target: a career tally in double digits.

Could be 10, 11 or more … no limits. Plus, an Olympic medal in Paris this year. Preferably gold, but silver or bronze would do — in singles, doubles or mixed.

She’s entering the Australian Open as a reigning Grand Slam champion, new territory for the 19-year-old American. Had she not fulfilled those expectations at last year’s U.S. Open, this would have been her last shot at being a teenage major winner.

Gauff, who turns 20 in March, believes she can play with more freedom now in pursuit of a second major title as the No. 4 seeded player at Melbourne Park.

The tournament starts Sunday, a day earlier than usual.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic, aiming for a recording-extending 11th Australian title and 25th overall, announced ahead of the schedule’s release that he’d be playing Sunday night. Djokovic opens against 18-year-old qualifier Dino Prizmic of Croatia.

Gauff’s first-round match is against Anna Karolina Schmeiedlova, a 29-year-old from Slovakia who has only been past the third round once in 35 majors.

Having rebounded from a shocking first-round exit at Wimbledon to winning a breakthrough major title at the very next major in New York has helped with a shift in mindset.

“I think I put too much pressure on winning a Slam. I think I was feeling like I have to do it,” Gauff said. “When I went on the scene at 15, I felt like I had to win a Slam as a teenager because that’s what everybody thought.

“Honestly, going into U.S. Open, I didn’t expect it. I felt like I was having a bad season, and my focus was just get through the season and focus on the Australian Open this year.”

It was the loss at Wimbledon that helped her take pause, relax and think about all those rounds before the final, one-by-one. She’d thought losing in the first round would have been the worst thing to happen to her.

Turns out, “wasn’t even that bad,” she said. “The world didn’t end. The sun still shines. I still have my friends and family.

“I realized that losing isn’t all that bad, and that I should just focus on the battle and the process and enjoy it. I found myself being able to play freer and trust myself more.”

Gauff is in the same quarter of the draw as four-time major winner Naomi Osaka and Caroline Wozniacki, both past Australian Open champions who are returning to Melbourne Park as mothers for the first time.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – Associated Press)

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