Ahead of 20th birthday, Coco Gauff gets real on her only-ever 'time-constraint' goal

Gauff set a major goal to accomplish in teenage and she managed to do it.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Ahead of 20th birthday, Coco Gauff gets real on her only-ever 'time-constraint' goal
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Coco Gauff highlighted ahead of her 20th birthday that becoming a Grand Slam champion as a teenager was a huge accomplishment for her and noted that it was "the only time-constraint goal" she had set for herself.

Gauff, who turns 20 on Tuesday, is currently playing the last tournament that she started as a teenager in Indian Wells. During her teenage years, Gauff enjoyed impressive success as she currently has eight titles in her collection and she is also the top-ranked American female tennis player with her ranking of No. 3 in the world. 

After losing to Iga Swiatek in her first Grand Slam final at the 2022 French Open, Gauff made it perfectly clear that her goal was to land a Slam title as a teenager and that she wasn't interested in comforting herself by saying that there was a lot of time left for her to win one. 

That mindset paid off for Gauff and probably drove her to work hard on her game and eventually accomplish her major teenage goal at the 2023 US Open. Before becoming a Slam champion at Flushing Meadows in September, the American also got her first WTA 1000 title in Cincinnati a couple of weeks prior. 

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

Gauff: It's good when you accomplish a goal that's so big

Reflecting on her major teenage goal, Gauff admitted it was something she badly wanted, and while she wants to do big things in the future, she is not putting a time-constraint on those goals.

"I think so. I think just I feel accomplished with what I wanted to do. It's good when you accomplish a goal that's so big. That's probably the only time-constraint goal I ever made for myself," Gauff said. 

"I think everything else is just whenever it happens it happens. Hopefully if it happens, it doesn't, whatever.

"But yeah, I think that was the only time-constraint goal I had put on myself, which probably is more pressing, because especially with slams, there's only four of them. It's tough to win one (smiling). It's not something that you can just do, like, it's not like a 250 or 500 or something you have every week to play and you don't have too much experience winning one if you never won one.

"I think that was just one of the main things for me was to try to do that. I guess now looking next, looking at what's next, yeah, 20 is a long time to play. So I don't have any time-constraint goals anymore on myself."

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman
 

Gauff on her two tight Indian Wells matches, playing Elise Mertens next 

In her first match at this year's Indian Wells edition, Gauff was hanging by a thread and got very close to being bounced in the first round by Clara Burel. But luckily for the third-seeded American - who was 0-4 and 2-5 down during the third set - she managed to make an epic comeback and beat the Frenchwoman 2-6 6-3 7-6 (4). 

After surviving the Burel test, Gauff overcame world No. 53 Lucia Bronzetti 6-2 7-6 (5) to progress into the Indian Wells round-of-16. While the home favorite was able to get the job done in two sets, Bronzetti wasn't really far from taking the match into a decider.

"Yeah, I mean, the first match is just the first round. Today was tight, but, you know, the first set was pretty straightforward. The second, you know, I was up a break. So, I don't know, I'm not really looking at it being tight. I played two tough opponents," Gauff said.

For a place in the Indian Wells quarterfinal, Gauff will be competing against No. 24 seed Elise Mertens, who defeated four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka 7-5 6-4. When Gauff takes on Mertens on her 20th birthday, she will be looking to improve to 4-0 in their head-to-head.

But the third-seeded American doesn't expect to have any easy job against former world No. 12 Mertens. 

"Elise, she's definitely a tough player. I think almost every time I play her is a tough match. I don't recall any straightforward wins playing against her. Even though the record is 3-0, it could easily have been the opposite," Gauff said.

"She's tough. She has good strokes and she can hit the ball clean, she can serve well, she makes you earn the match."

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman
 

In 2021, Gauff earned a hard-fought 0-6 7-6 (4) 7-5 win over Mertens in their first meeting in Eastbourne before beating the Belgian 6-4 6-0 at the 2022 French Open. Gauff's last win over Mertens came during her run to the 2023 US Open title as she defeated the 28-year-old 3-6 6-3 6-0.

Coco Gauff
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