Teenage sensation Coco Gauff says she has nothing to lose in her upcoming clash with Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open.
Gauff, who is the youngest player in this year’s draw at the age of 15, battled into the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday. Taking on Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, the American prevailed 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, after more than two hours of play. Coming back from a 0-3 deficit in the deciding set to progress into the last 32 of the tournament on her debut. Gauff has now won six main draw grand slam matches before her 16th birthday.
“I think I was just trying to stay calm mostly and stay positive. I’ve always believed that I can come back regardless of the score.” She commented about her latest win.
“The whole match I knew I needed to be more aggressive. I guess I finally decided to do that even though I wish I decided earlier.’
“I think I kind of felt the momentum changing. I knew I had to keep pressing.”
Tipped to be a future star of the women’s game, Gauff achieved another record with her latest win. She is the first female American player to reach the third round of her first three grand slam tournaments in 30 years. A fete that wasn’t even achieved by the formidable Williams sisters.
The reward for the youngster is a second meeting with two-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka, who won the Australian Open title 12 months ago. They first clashed at the US Open last September with the Japanese player dropping only three games against Gauff.
Despite being the underdog in the upcoming match, Gauff has vowed to give it her all. Now familiar with Osaka’s game on the court, the world No.67 believes she will be ‘less nervous’ during their next meeting.
“I think in general my mindset has always been nothing to lose really. Even when in juniors, even though I was ranked pretty high in juniors, I was technically supposed to win. Then I still felt like I had nothing to lose.” She explained.
“I still feel that now. I think my mindset just is I’m going to fight. If I lose, the world is not going to end. I’m going to have another match in maybe a week or so.’
“I think it’s just less pressure to win. I feel like for me, I’m not trying to win so much, but trying to play my best tennis on the court. Winning comes with that if I play good.”
Reflecting on their previous encounter, Gauff paid tribute to her rival. Who consoled her tearful opponent on the court following their match at the Arthur Ashe stadium. A gestured hailed by the teenager as ‘true sportsmanship.’
“I think that’s something if I had a child or something, that’s something I would want my child to see.” She said.
“It just shows what being a competitor really is. You might hate the person on the court, but off the court you love them, not really like hate. But you want to win.’
“Sometimes when we’re on the court, we say things we don’t mean because we have that mentality.”
Gauff will play Osaka on Friday. Osaka beat China’s Zheng Saisai 6-2, 6-4, in her second round match earlier in the day.