US Open champion Coco Gauff chasing 10 career grand slam titles

By Sports Desk January 13, 2024
Coco Gauff Coco Gauff

Coco Gauff has set herself a target of winning at least 10 grand slam titles during her career.

The 19-year-old goes into the Australian Open as tennis’ newest major winner after lifting the trophy at the US Open last September.

Asked if she had a number in mind, Gauff said: “I would say recently I feel like I wanted to get double-digits. That’s cool.

 

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“I don’t know if it will happen, but I think that’s a high goal. I think setting my goals high pushes me beyond what I think I can do.”

Players often struggle in the period after a major breakthrough, but Gauff began her 2024 season by defending her title in Auckland and will be one of the favourites for success in Melbourne.

“During the off-season we did celebrate a little bit just because after the US Open everything was so fast,” said the world number four, who plays Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the first round.

“Now, going into another slam, it really feels like so long ago. Some players’ goal is to win a grand slam. Once they reach that, it’s kind of what’s next.

“For me, I always knew I wanted to win multiple. It was kind of easy to forget about it. Not ‘forget’. I think that’s the wrong word. Maybe just put it in the past and look forward to the future instead of dwelling on the past.

“I think for me the only thing I will try to remember from that slam is just the way that I won. It wasn’t my best tennis. It was more the mental fire.”

Gauff credits her success to a shift in mentality, helped by new coach Brad Gilbert, after a disappointing loss against Sofia Kenin in the opening round of Wimbledon.

“I think I put too much pressure on winning a slam,” she 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 US 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.

“I think putting that mindset just relaxed me a lot. At the end of the day, the worst thing that happened to me at Wimbledon was I could lose first round. That wasn’t even that bad. Obviously it sucked. The world didn’t end. The sun still shines. I still have my friends and family.

“I realised that losing isn’t all that bad, and that I should just focus on the battle and the process and enjoy it. When it’s 5-5 in the third set, enjoy that battle instead of thinking, ‘What if I lose?’ I found myself being able to play freer and trust myself more.”

 

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Looking to avoid a first-round upset against former Australian Open winner Kenin this time will be top seed Iga Swiatek, who is bidding for a first title in Melbourne.

Aryna Sabalenka broke her grand slam duck here last year and went on to reach at least the semi-finals at each of the grand slams and become world number one.

The Belarusian, who will take on German teenager Ella Seidel in the first night session on Sunday, said: “I had an incredible season last year, improved a lot as a player and as a person. I did really a great pre-season. We worked a lot. I felt like we improved a lot. I feel really great and feel like I’m ready to go.”

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