Coco Gauff reveals she would likely be in school right now if she didn't make it in pro tennis and became an established and successful player early on.
Gauff, who will be turning 20 next month, has accomplished a lot for someone of her age as the American is already a Grand Slam and a WTA 1000 champion, as well as the top-ranked American female tennis player. Considering that Gauff is widely considered one of the most talented and promising players on the Tour, the general expectation and belief is that the 2023 US Open champion is going to achieve a lot more success and be a strong force in tennis for many years.
This week, Gauff is competing in the first WTA 1000 tournament of the year in Doha. In her pre-tournament presser, Gauff was asked what she would be doing in life now if she wasn't in this position. Answering the question, Gauff admitted she would be in school but acknowledged she wouldn't quit on tennis at this age even if she didn't accomplish this success early on.
"I feel like now would be too late to start another sport if I wasn't good. Right now, I'm 19, so I really don't want to give up on the tennis dream yet at 19, but maybe in five years if I still sucked, I would have to go to school -- well, actually I want to do that sooner," Gauff said.
"I think at 19 I would know if I had a big future in this or not, so if I was 19 and I wasn't good, I'd definitely be in school right now. But I wouldn't have given up on the sport yet, but honestly, at a certain age I think I would try to make sure I'm able to be successful in other areas of life. Luckily so far tennis has been working out for me, so I don't need to make that decision."
Gauff honestly rates her Australian Open run
After lifting the US Open title in September, Gauff entered the Australian Open among the top favorites for the title. In Melbourne, Gauff managed to make another deep Grand Slam run, which ended in the semifinal following a 6-7 (2) 4-6 loss to Aryna Sabalenka.
Reflecting on that result, Gauff acknowledged that her goal was to win the Australian Open and that falling just short of winning another Grand Slam wasn't an easy pill to swallow. But Gauff also suggested that she is doing her best to have a more mature approach to losses and "celebrate" herself even when she makes a strong run that doesn't result in a title.
"Honestly, I do look at it, Okay, that was good. I kind of hate myself that I do that because it is a great accomplishment to make it to a semifinal of a Grand Slam, and people sometimes only do that once in their lives. So I am trying to celebrate myself more, but it is hard to do that.
"You know, you have your goals, a big trophy, and you're close and you don't get it. But I do feel like it was a great, positive tournament for me. I think I'm on the road to hopefully winning another one and continuing to improve... But I am trying to make sure that I keep celebrating myself and not get too caught up on just the trophy, that there are little wins along the way."
Gauff on what she was focused on in practice after the Australian Open
Ahead of the start of her Doha campaign, Gauff confirmed that she is being accompanied by coach Brad Gilbert and revealed that will be the case in the majority of tournaments this season. When reflecting on what was happening in the time between the Australian Open and Doha, Gauff shared that she was working a lot on her serve in the last few weeks.
Against Sabalenka in the Australian Open semifinal, Gauff faced break points in seven games - Sabalenka had 10 break points and converted four of them en route to beating the American in two sets. Gauff certainly wasn't happy with that stat and she focused on improving her serve before returning to action during the Middle East swing.
"The focus of the training was definitely working on improving the serve and trying to be more consistent with that. You know, it's not that much time been Australia and now, so I can't improve -- you can always improve but not as big, drastic in a week and a half of training. I did just try to focus on the points on my serve and overall on my game," Gauff said.
In Doha, Gauff is the second-seeded player and had a first-round bye. On Tuesday, Gauff will be opening her Doha campaign by playing against Katerina Siniakova in the second round.
Heading into the match, Gauff has a dominant 5-1 head-to-head against Siniakova. Their last meeting came on the grass courts of Berlin in June, when Gauff ousted Siniakova 6-3 6-4.