With the permission of the legendary Billie Jean King, master of ceremonies of this US Open in which the 50th anniversary of the equal pay that she achieved through a fight is celebrated, all eyes are on Gauff’s layout in New York. “Win or lose, this year’s tournament belongs to Coco”, he headlines The New York TimesThe medium is attentive to the steps of that girl who in 2019 impressed with 15 years at Wimbledon, breaking round by round several precociousness records. Today, the American (19) is no longer a promise or a passing hint, but a reality. sixth in the ranking World Cup, she already acts as one of the leaders of the circuit and after all, and the titles she is winning – five individual titles, the last of which was achieved in Cincinnati – adds a charisma that other figures lack.
“I want to be a person that people can identify with. If I win big things I will have the opportunity to have some impact; Maybe not in everyone, but in some people. And that’s enough”, he expressed last year in an interview with EL PAÍS in which he reviewed his origins, highlighted his feminist commitment -“I am thanks to my father, he raised us without gender roles”- and recounted that, Somehow, his entire career is shrouded in an exceptional patina. She exploded as a teenager, by then she already had several sponsors and the Swiss Roger Federer, a man with a good eye for tennis and also for business, hooked her up through her representation agency (Team8).
“In 2020, when the Black Lives Matter movement was hottest, I gave a kind of talk at my house and I thought that I would not leave there, and suddenly I see that it is on CNN, ESPN and everywhere …”, he related in that meeting in the Caja Mágica, already very aware of the media coverage it has in a country that is desperately looking for new tennis references. Ben Shelton appears there, summoned with Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, and a year younger but with more packaging, Gauff faces the moment of truth in the tournament with determination. The stands point towards her, who for better or worse, both surely, must deal from her takeoff with the infinite and legendary shadow of Serena Williams.
Already present in the penultimate round of the major, the American is the youngest local player to progress to that level since Serena did in 2001, and forever. “I try to think that I’m still at the start of the tournament, and that way I’m emotionally fresher,” she told reporters. “To win you have to be very focused, but at the same time you have to enjoy yourself. Maybe that’s the change: now I have more fun and I have more confidence in myself. In the first meeting I had with Brad [Gilbert, su entrenador junto con el español Pere Riba]He told me that I had to smile more. The pressure is always there, but I think I’m learning to face it better every time, ”continues the American, who after her premature fall at Wimbledon (first round) made a move to react. And, from crises, it is said, the best solutions are usually extracted.
Crisis y Brad Gilbert
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She picked up the phone and met for an hour in London with Gilbert, a renowned technical adviser to figures such as Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray. The coach accepted, the link was born and the results were immediate: successes in Washington and Cincinnati, the latter –WTA 1000, the second most important category after the big four– the most relevant that she has obtained so far. “August has been a big month for me, but I know how this works; Now I’m up, but at any moment the descent will come. I trust that it is not now… Before, defeats affected me too much, but now I know that we all lose, even the best ones did, ”, she transmits before complimenting her new coach.
“BG [Gilbert] He has trained some of the best in history. He is very relaxed, he helps me see tennis in a different way. But maybe it’s not so much the message as the way it’s conveyed to you. It helps me to have fun and to accept the difficulties”, continues Gauff, who in the direction of the appointment this Thursday with the Czech Karolina Muchova, a finalist this year at Roland Garros, got rid of Laura Siegemund, Mirra Andreeva, Elise Mertens, Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Ostapenko, to whom he only conceded two games in the quarterfinals.
Still to be done, his proposal on the track is not particularly seductive. However, she is one of the most rocky tennis players –close to 1.80 tall, long and sinewy musculature– and she has an extraordinary physique, on a par with the strongest. Undoubtedly, she has nothing to envy athletes like the Greek Maria Sakkari or the French Caroline Garcia. “My tennis is improving and, in that sense, I feel that I am one of the best,” she appreciates; “I admire Novak a lot. [Djokovic] and Carlos [Alcaraz]. They are on another level in terms of physique and footwork, and that is something I am trying to influence. I think I’m at a similar athletic level to theirs, although on my scale, obviously.”
Djokovic himself praises him. “Is growing. He’s still young, but with Brad by his side, things are working out for them. He has high hopes for this US Open, and that’s how it should be, ”says the one from Belgrade. The technician, for his part, knows that he has another diamond on his hands with which to reinforce his guru halo. “He has been under a lot of pressure to win a Grand Slam, but we only think about the little things; the details are the most important. She is the one that moves the best on the entire circuit, ”the prestigious Gilbert, 62, who also comments on matches, specified in an interview with ESPN.
Gauff’s appearance at Wimbledon attracted all eyes and he has been followed with a magnifying glass ever since. The specialists understand that her landing at the top is a mere matter of time, although Aryna Sabalenka has applied strongly – on Monday she will rise to the top – and the Polish Iga Swiatek promises to return to the charge, without ruling out the alternative of Kazakh Elena Rybakina. In any case, she walks with lead feet through the present. “I feel like I’m in a rebuilding period. I’m trying to go one step further in my game. To put it in some way, it is about building the house again; I have the land, and now I want it to be as extravagant, big and beautiful as possible”, Coco decides decisively.
Meanwhile, the crowd is confident that another American can put her name on the record. The last to achieve it was Sloane Stephens, diluted since that flash in 2017, and previously it was Serena (2014) who made the summit at home. In the last two decades, only the two of them have succeeded. Now, say the local media, it is Gauff’s turn.
SABALENKA: FIVE SEMIFINALS IN A ROW
AC | NY
With the exception of the Polish Iga Swiatek, already down, there is no player who offers more reliability than Aryna Sabalenka on the WTA circuit. The 25-year-old Belarusian defeated Chinese Qinwen Zheng 6-1, 6-4 on Wednesday, and thus reached the semifinals of the great New Yorker. She does it for the third time in a row, the fifth time on a big stage.
Sabalenka, who next Monday will be crowned the new number one, will face this morning (around 3:00) the American Madison Keys, superior to the Czech Marketa Vondrousova: 6-1 and 6-4. At the other crossing of the day, Gauff and Muchova will open fire (1.00).
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