Tennis coaching great Toni Nadal has lauded Coco Gauff for winning the 2023 US Open to prove “experts” who felt she “had already reached her limit” were wrong.
The Spaniard hailed Gauff’s ability to “endure pressure, comparisons and comments” and described her as “a very sensible athlete” who has “good perspective.”
Gauff defeated Aryna Sabalenka, who has since become world No 1, in three sets in the US Open final earlier this month to claim her maiden Grand Slam title.
The American is at a career-high ranking of world No 3 following a superb run – winning 18 of her last 19 matches and three of her last four tournaments.
After an opening round defeat to Sofia Kenin at Wimbledon, Gauff won the Washington title, reached the Montreal quarter-finals and secured her first WTA 1000 event in Cincinnati, before her New York triumph.
In his column for El Pais, Nadal shared his thoughts on Gauff’s major breakthrough and praised the way she has handled pressure and also defied her doubters.
“With this incredible victory, the Atlanta tennis player has managed to take a big weight off her shoulders. At the age of 15 she became the youngest player in history to reach the fourth round of Wimbledon,” wrote the Mallorcan.
“The promise of the women’s circuit and the great hope of North American tennis. From that moment on, she had to endure pressure, comparisons and comments. In recent times, some experts ventured with surprising avidity that the player, despite her very young age, had already reached her limit.
“I’m glad that, with tenacity, work and great education, she managed to prove them wrong. I don’t know her personally, but seeing her celebration full of emotion, and, at the same time, far from the stridency of this histrionic current world, she seems to me a very sensible athlete.”
Nadal also expressed his admiration for the attitude and perspective the 19-year-old star has despite her young age.
“I also found her statements at the press conference after her triumph in which she downplayed the importance of the pressure she endures very remarkable,” continued the 62-year-old.
“She admitted that, of course, she feels it and that normal nerves accompany her, but she added that she is aware of her privileged situation. One more example of good sense and good perspective, despite her youth.”
Nadal coached his nephew Rafael Nadal from his childhood until 2017, helping him win 16 of his 22 Grand Slam titles. The Spaniard has been working with world No 14 Felix Auger-Aliassime since 2021.