young prodigy Coco Gauff in Melbourne has no questions

Coco Gauff after his reborn mattch against Naomi Osaka on January 24 in Melbourne.
Coco Gauff after his reborn mattch against Naomi Osaka on January 24 in Melbourne. DAVID GRAY / AFP

It’s the feeling of the first week of the Australian Open. At 15, Cori "Coco" Gauff beat, in the third round on Friday January 24, Naomi Osaka (6-3, 6-4), world number three and defending champion in Melbourne. Five days earlier, she had eliminated Venus Williams in the first round (7-6, 6-3). Sunday (at 4:30 a.m. Paris time), the young American must face Sofia Kenin, seeded number 14, in the round of 16.

"Honestly, what is my life? My God. Two years ago, I lost the first round in the juniors and now I'm here. It's crazy ! I mean, I love being here. Oh my God ", exclaimed Gauff after his victory.

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Like many young prodigies, Coco Gauff seems programmed by his parents to do great things. In any case, this is what his trainer, Frenchman Jean-Christophe Faurel, interviewed by 20 minutes : "Since she was eight years old, her father said to her," Ok you play, but you know why you do it. To break records. Since she was twelve, she has not been afraid of anyone. At that age, if she had played a top 100, she would have gone there to win. Even if it wasn’t necessarily possible. But that's what she says to herself. "

This mentality quickly paid off: Cori Gauff was already the youngest player to win a junior tournament in the United States at 10 and to reach the final of the US Open juniors in 2017, at 13 and a half. She also won the title at Roland Garros in juniors in 2018, at just 14 years old.

"I always believe I can win"

His transition from the juniors to the WTA circuit seems to have changed nothing in his state of mind. This is in any case what emerged from his responses after his victory against Naomi Osaka on Friday: "I don’t even wonder about the title holder because at the time I’m just thinking about playing the ball. And that’s what I’ll think (Saturday) by playing the double and then the same when I play my single, I don't even know when. I always believe that I can win, no matter who my opponent is. "

The general public had discovered Cori Gauff in July 2019, at Wimbledon. She left her mark on the fortnight by reaching the knockout stages, where she was finally beaten by Simona Halep (6-4, 6-4). Before that, the American had become the youngest player to graduate, and had the luxury of beating (already) her compatriot Venus Williams in the third round (6-4, 6-4).

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Since then, the 1m76 American has won her first senior tournament in Linz (Austria), beating Jelena Ostapenko (who won Roland Garros in 2017) in the final. A performance that made her the youngest tenniswoman to win a tournament since 2004. In the Open era, recalled The Team in October 2019, "Gauff is the ninth youngest player to have won a title."

"She can win a Grand Slam this year"

What to wonder if Gauff does not already have Grand Slam dreams. "Even before the tournament starts, every player, I think, thinks they can win. Some believe it stronger than others ", she said at a press conference.

At New york times, she explained that her mission "Is to become the best player. This is my goal: to win as many Grand Slam tournaments as possible. "

His other trainer, Patrick Mouratoglou, is sure of his strength: "I am convinced that she can win a Grand Slam this year. " Beaten twice by his young compatriot, Venus Williams is convinced that Gauff represents the future of world tennis: “The sky is its limit. "

If she knocks down all the obstacles placed in her path and wins a first major title in Melbourne, Cori Gauff will become the youngest player to win one of the four Grand Slam tournaments.

For now, Martina Hingis of Switzerland is the holder of this record. She won at 16 years and 117 days, during the Australian Open in 1997.

This means that even if she does not win in Melbourne, Cori Gauff will still have, at least, one more opportunity to win this record at Roland Garros in May and June.


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