Coco Gauff on Tuesday became the first American teenager to reach the U.S. Open semifinals since Serena Williams in 2001 and credited her “mental endurance” for getting her one step closer to a first Grand Slam title.
Gauff arrived in New York having played plenty of tennis over the past month as she lifted the titles in Washington and Cincinnati while also reaching the quarter-finals in Montreal but she has not shown any signs of slowing down.
“I think doing well in those tournaments built my mental endurance. Always had the physical endurance but it built my mental endurance,” sixth seed Gauff told reporters.
“Right now I feel emotionally fresh, which I think was the problem in the past in Grand Slams, I would emotionally be drained. Obviously I’m physically fresh and emotionally fresh, and I think that just came from experience.”
The 19-year-old Gauff advanced to the semi-finals with a clinical 6-0, 6-2 win over Latvian 20th seed Jelena Ostapenko at Arthur Ashe Stadium to match her career-best winning streak of 10 consecutive matches.
Gauff looked very fresh against Ostapenko, who beat world number one and defending champion Iga Swiatek in the fourth round, and chased down every ball sent her way en route to taking the first frame in 20 minutes before wrapping up the match in 68 minutes to reach her first U.S. Open semi-final.
“Today was the best match I’ve played, for sure. Even though it wasn’t how I like to play, against her it’s so hard to be the aggressor sometimes,” said Gauff.
“So I think that, like, the decision-making that I’m making is probably the best I’ve had, and I feel really confident in all my strokes.”
Gauff, who is now two wins away from lifting the biggest title of her career, also felt that she was benefiting from a new outlook on life that has helped her to cope with the pressure of being one of America’s greatest tennis hopes.
Rather than focus on that unrelenting pressure, Gauff has finally allowed herself to enjoy each moment she has on court while not taking any of it for granted.
“I mean, there are people struggling to feed their families, people who don’t know where their next meal is going to come from, people who have to pay their bills. That’s real pressure, that’s real hardship, that’s real life,” said Gauff.
“I know there are millions of people who probably want to be in this position that I am now, so instead of saying why this, why that, I should just be, like, why not me? Why am I not enjoying this? I should.
“I just told myself, man, I should enjoy this. I’m having so much fun doing it. I should not think about the results and think about this. I’m living a lucky life and I’m so blessed. I don’t want to take it for granted.”
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