Novak Djokovic and Coco Gauff are in contention to be crowned as 2023 US Open champions, with the long-running legend of the game backing the rising star of women’s tennis to win her first title this week.
Djokovic is eyeing up a 24th Grand Slam title as he prepares for a semi-final against big-hitting American Ben Shelton, yet it is the rise of Gauff that is dominating the agenda in the American media.
She has been one of the big stars of the women’s game since her breakthrough at Wimbledon 2015, but the major singles title she has craved has been missing from her impressive list of achievements.
That could change this weekend and Djokovic backing Gauff to finally crack the Grand Slam dream on home soil.
“Coco is on the rise. She’s yet to win a Grand Slam, but played in a final,” said Djokovic, reflecting on Coco’s run to last year’s French Open final.
“She’s still young, but now with Brad Gilbert on her side with the experience of coaching some of the greats, things are coming together for her.. she’s got the home support.
“Physically she’s very fit, striking the ball very well. She broke to the top of the women’s game quite early, but it still takes a few years to come together where you feel you’re complete as a player, ready to win Slams, & dominate the game.
“I think she’s coming very close to that stage & level. I’m sure she has high hopes for US Open, & she should. Bc she’s playing really well.”
Gauff’s coach Brad Gilbert has come under fire for the constant stream of advice he delivers in every match, but the outspoken American has insisted he is a positive influence on the teenager.
Gilbert was in a bullish mood as Gauff prepares for a semi-final against Karolina Muchova, as he revealed how the link-up with Gauff became a reality.
“It was the middle Saturday at Wimbledon and I got a text asking if I would to take a meeting with Gauff her parents,” he told Sky Sports.
“I said sure. I took a meeting with them on Sunday and gave a few thoughts on how I could help them.
“I said I was available during the summer and two days before Washington I got a text asking if I would so a two-day trail.
“You know what her two best qualities are. She’s incredibly humble and hard-working.
“I think I’ve helped her a lot with simple strategy and understanding your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. That’s the best you can do on the fly.
“I had so many texts telling me ‘fix her forehand’. I was like, well she does a lot of things well so let’s work on that.
“I moved her back six, eight nine feet on the return as so many girls are so close. I’m giving her a chance to use what she does well and it’s up to her to execute the game plan.
“I use my gut and my feel. I sit in the stands, what the opponents and use the feel for what I’m seeing. The data may well you one thing, but great players can make adjustments.”
Gilbert was in an upbeat mood despite the negative media attention he has been receiving, as he is combining his role as Gauff’s coach with his position as a pundit with ESPN.
“This is my 42nd straight Open and there is nowhere else I’d rather be,” said Gilbert.
“It’s a long time since I coached at the highest level, but I feel like I coach when I (commentating) on TV.
“I feel like that has helped me. You analyse things on TV and now that I am back coaching, I feel like I’m better equipped.”
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