Coco Gauff at the 2023 US Open (Photo by Derrel Jazz Johnson for rolling out)
Coco Gauff started sensationally in her first U.S. Open semifinal, her second overall, to advance to the 2023 US Open women’s championship Saturday night. Gauff defeated Karolína Muchová 6-4, 7-5, sparked by a 5-1 opening to the first set.
Gauff compared her first Grand Slam final last year to the upcoming final.“I think, you know, playing that match, I don’t know, the whole tournament felt like a surprise to me,” she recalled. “I wasn’t expecting the final here either, but I just think then I was really winning and just relieved that I made it to a final because so many people expected a lot of things from me. You know, I think I just didn’t really believe that I had it in me, especially at the time playing [against] Iga, who was on a winning streak and everything. But this time around, I have been focusing more on myself and my expectations of myself. Not going on social media or listening to people who believe that I can or believe that I can’t. So, I have just been really focusing on myself. I really believe that now I have the maturity and ability to do it. You know, regardless of what happens on Saturday, I’m really proud of how I have been handling the last few weeks.”
Gauff was also asked about repeating a phrase from the late Kobe Bryant, the job is not done in an on-court interview.“[Kobe Bryant had] an incredible mentality,” she reflected. “One of the things is when he’s up and, you know, the finals, NBA Finals when they’re up in the count or 3-1, whatever lead they have, he doesn’t celebrate. He’d [be] satisfied, give himself a pat on the back but time to move on. So that’s the mentality that I have. I’m trying to enjoy the moment but also know I still have more work to do. Yes, the final is an incredible achievement but it’s something that I’m not satisfied with yet.”
Gauff will play Aryna Sabalenka, who stunned Madison Keys with a 0-6, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (5) win in the other semifinal.
Sabalenka, who will claim the No. 1 spot in women’s tennis on Monday, discussed her most recent match against Gauff.
“I mean, honestly I would say that she played much better than in that match,” she said. “She improved a lot. So, it’s a different player.”
Sabalenka continued to discuss the challenges Gauff presents.
“She’s moving really well,” she said. “She’s hungry. She kind of like [has] nothing to lose. She knows that crowd [is] going to support her. I think that’s what makes her [a] really difficult opponent. Also, [she’s] serving really well.”
Gauff looks to become the sixth Black woman to win the U.S. Open women’s championship Saturday, joining Althea Gibson, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and Naomi Osaka. Gauff also hopes to become the first teen to win the U.S. Open women’s championship since Serena Williams.
Source: Rolling Out