into your inbox
Thousand have already subscribedy
Gauff, after making Roland-Garros final, builds confidence heading into Wimbledon
After her performance at Roland-Garros 2022, Coco Gauff says her confidence has received a boost…and Wimbledon is around the corner
And having just done that, in a few weeks Gauff returns to the tournament where she first truly introduced herself to the world, Wimbledon.
The transition might not be easy, since digesting her Roland-Garros run could take time — especially for someone who turned 18 less than three months ago.
But Gauff, indeed, said the momentum garnered is sure to bolster her belief ahead of Wimbledon and also the US Open in August.
“Yeah, I definitely feel like this has helped my confidence a lot,” she told reporters after a 6-1, 6-3 defeat to Iga Swiatek that left her in tears. “I just think even when I was 15, 16, 17, I felt like so much pressure to make a final.
“Now that I made a final, I feel like (relieved) a little bit.”
Gauff enjoyed a stellar junior career, in both singles and doubles.
The pressure she felt to achieve greatness at majors in the last few years, perhaps, stemmed from that performance at Wimbledon in 2019.
As uplifting as it was for Gauff, and tennis, expectations indeed soared.
Back then as a 15-year-old ranked 313th, Gauff had to go through qualifying.
She dropped only 14 games in three matches, though it went largely unnoticed.
Defeating one of Wimbledon’s greatest players in the first round, Venus Williams, didn’t, of course.
Gauff proceeded to beat a past Wimbledon semi-finalist (Magdalena Rybarikova), and in one of the most dramatic encounters of the fortnight, saved two points in a comeback win over Polona Hercog.
That thriller was watched by 5.2 million people on host broadcaster the BBC, more than the figures for the 2018 final. She gained many a fan, including former First Lady Michelle Obama, who called her “terrific.”
It took eventual champion Simona Halep to stop her in the fourth round.
“I don’t think I’ve seen anyone arrive in a greater flash at their first major,” Martina Navratilova, the 18-time Grand Slam winner, told BBC Sport.
“I have a feeling Coco Gauff will transcend the game.”
That she has done, already.
Gauff has been unafraid to discuss non-tennis issues, including at Roland-Garros 2022.
But back to her game, she feels progress has been made in several areas.
“My game, I feel like I learned a lot,” said Gauff, who lost to another Wimbledon champion, Angelique Kerber, in last year’s fourth round. “A lot of confidence on both sides.
Game has improved
“I know my backhand is something that everyone talks about but really I think what got me to the final was my forehand. So I have a lot of confidence going in, and I would say this is the best I have played on both sides, forehand and backhand.
“Even my serve, double faults have been a problem in the past for me. I felt like this tournament it hasn’t been a problem really for me.”
Gauff did hit 10 double faults in her opener against Rebecca Marino, but only two in the semi-finals against Martina Trevisan — after hitting 19 against the Italian in a loss at Roland-Garros in 2020.
Swiatek has some history on grass, too.
The Pole, who upped her winning streak to 35 matches, won the Wimbledon juniors in 2018 aged 17.
Like Gauff, she landed in the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2021, falling to Ons Jabeur.
Grass ‘tricky’ for Swiatek
Both are seeking a first grass-court quarter-final, with Swiatek saying grass is “tricky” for her, despite the junior title.
“My coach believes I can win more matches on grass,” said Swiatek, referring to Tomasz Wiktorowski. “I don’t know about that yet. But I would like to add like one or two. Honestly, grass is always tricky. I actually like the part that I have no expectations there. It’s something kind of refreshing.”
Wiktorowski coached Aga Radwanska when she made the Wimbledon final in 2012 — losing in three sets to Serena Williams — and Swiatek hopes that will help.
“It was her favourite surface, so maybe he is going to give me some tips that are actually going to be really helpful, and I’m going to enjoy playing on grass a little bit more.”