How Coco Gauff tries to emulate Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz

Coco Gauff US Open Credit: Alamy
Coco Gauff US Open Credit: Alamy

When it comes to getting their slide on, Coco Gauff says there are no better role models than Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz.

Gauff says that she is working on her sliding but can’t claim to be on the level of the great ATP stars.

She feels that the key to sliding well is not to put too much thought into it and is something that has largely come naturally to her.

“Yeah, it’s not something I think about, to be honest,” Gauff told a press conference after her win over Mirra Andreeva.

“Maybe something that, I don’t know if I’ve done it my whole life. It’s not something that I’ve tried to work on or learn. So it came naturally. I’m assuming it’s something I just learned as a kid.

“I do know when I was learning how to play on red clay when I was super young in Europe at Mouratoglou Academy they were teaching me how to slide on clay but not necessarily on hard.

“I think it’s something as a last resort on hard court you can use. I don’t think sliding is the best thing all the time but it definitely helps you a lot when you’re getting to those balls where you probably don’t have enough time to do that extra step.

“Somebody who I look up to a lot movement-wise is definitely Novak and definitely Carlos. I think they’re both people that are seating their fill when it comes to — well, obviously the tennis, but obviously physically and footwork-wise. It’s something I’m trying to work on.

“I do think I have the athleticism as them — not like the same as them — but compared to my field. So I’m hoping I can continue to learn by watching them. I was watching Alcaraz last night.”

Gauff draws further inspiration from both Alcaraz and Djokovic in their ability to dig out results when things aren’t going their way.

She also feels that its important to enjoy yourself on court something exemplified by Alcaraz.

“I saw the French Open match and I saw the Wimbledon final,” Gauff said when asked about watching the matches between Alcaraz and Djokovic.

“I did not see the whole Cincinnati final because I was flying home the same time as the final. So I missed the match live. I saw bits and pieces from it but I didn’t see the whole thing.

“Yeah, I can’t remember when they played again, but I saw most of their matchups. Obviously I watch them a lot when they’re playing other people.

“The thing I’ve learned the most is how they’re able to handle the situations when they’re not playing their best tennis. For instance, Carlos in Cincinnati, he was losing a set every match pretty much and he wasn’t playing his best, that was clear. I don’t know. The way that he was still smiling, for me, against Hubi Hurkacz and he was down a set and a break or something like that, I don’t know, he was down crazy or down match points. He was still smiling.

“I was, like, if he can smile, he’s No. 1 in the world and he has all this pressure, he’s supposed to beat Hubi on paper, then I can do it in situations maybe where, most of the time now I’m not the underdog, but against, for example, like Iga or Sabalenka, those where I’m considered the underdog on paper, I can smile too.

“I think I learned the most about their joy in matches and how I can transfer that. Because I have a lot of joy in me but I just seem to bottle it up when I play. Now I’m really just having fun and laughing and smiling, and I think it’s making tennis more enjoyable.”

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