Coco Gauff admitted that losses ‘hurt’ and that she felt great ‘disappointment’ after her first-round US Open defeat at the hands of Anastasija Sevastova.
Gauff, the 16-year-old American had never failed to reach the third round of a Grand Slam in her previous three attempts but fell at the first hurdle on home soil this time around.
While she demonstrated her usual resilience to claw her way back into the match having fallen a set and a break behind, she failed to get over the line with Sevastova – whose only other win in the entirety of 2020 came against Serena Williams in the Fed Cup – drawing on her experience to get over the line.
Despite her young age, Gauff’s Grand Slam matches have typically come on jam-packed stadium courts but she was adamant that the lack of supporters wasn’t a factor in her defeat.
‘I don’t really think so. I think I compete just as hard with fans or not,’ said Gauff after the 6-3 5-7 6-4 defeat.
‘I could have played better today. Just going to get back to work and get ready for the French Open. I mean, right now losses hurt. I mean, I’m disappointed. I’m going to go back to practice tomorrow and hopefully do my best in doubles, then prepare for singles in Europe.’
Gauff showed maturity beyond her years away from the court this summer when addressing Black Lives Matters protesters in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing and she reflected on what has been an interesting period for her development both in terms of tennis and wider life.
‘This summer I learned a lot about myself,’ she added. ‘I learned that I can overcome a lot of things on and off the court. I still hope I can be that way and use my platform in that way.
‘I mean, just the beginning. I just got on tour a little over a year ago, so I still have a lot to learn and a long ways to go. I think the break I was able to work on a lot of things that I normally wouldn’t. I mean, it’s common when you’re younger. Normally when you’re a younger player, you take training blocks. I don’t think it hurt me so much.
‘The main part that hurt was just getting matches under my belt, getting experience. That’s what I need on tour. I’m playing against people older than me who have been in more situations, difficult situations, than I have. I think the biggest thing is I just need experience.’
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It may not have been a perfect day at the office for the American teenager, but as her 30-year-old opponent pointed out any defeat is worth keeping in perspective.
‘I mean, I wish I would play like this when I was 16 years old,’ said Sevastova. ‘Great player. Nothing more to say. I think she maybe started a bit slower than me, but she was getting better as the match went on. That’s so important I think in tennis.
‘Yeah, in the end I think third set she played her best tennis. She was serving better, moving better. It was tough, yeah. Fortunately I stayed calm in the third set and managed to win, to close it out. I think I had some mistakes. I was risking a lot. But, yeah, she’s moving so well, it’s tough to finish the point. She sees the ball. She hits amazing backhand. Forehand for sure could be better. Still, it’s uncomfortable to play her.’
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