The US Open is underway in New York and Martina Navratilova believes the final chapter of this year’s story will throw up a big win for a home favourite.
Tennis legend Navratilova is part of the Sky Sports team broadcasting the US Open in the UK and Ireland and she is convinced the moment has come for Coco Gauff to win her first Grand Slam title.
Gauff claimed her first WTA 1000 title in Cincinnati last week, beating world No 1 Iga Swiatek en route to a breakthrough success and now Navratilova is convinced the 19-year-old from Georgia can win the big one in New York.
“This summer she has won two of the three tournaments she’s played and is one of the favourites,” said four-time US Open champion Navratilova on Sky Sports.
“She has fixed up her forehand and is using her strengths more. Her movement, her backhand and her serve are strong. It’s great to see her play so well.
“Coco is still so young, but she has been around for five years now and the expectations were so high from the start.
“She already came in as a star and then she made such a splash at Wimbledon in his first time out and the expectations went even higher before they levelled off.
“Now this summer, she has won some tournaments and she is one of the favourites at the US Open. I’m picking her to win.
“She has fixed up her forehand and she is using her strengths more, which are massive. Her movement, her backhand, her serve and her net play. It’s great to see her play that well.”
Former British No 1 Tim Henman echoed Navratilova’s belief that Gauff can win the US Open, as he suggested the addition of the highly experienced Brad Gilbert to her coaching team has given her game a new dimension.
“When she went out in the first round at Wimbledon, it was all gloom and doom,” Henman told Sky Sports.
“People were asking whether she should take a big chunk of time off to sort the forehand out, but Brad’s knowledge and experience has helped. He has been a calming presence.
“Her going into her home Slam in this kind of form is exciting for her.”
Gauff has been given a challenging draw in New York as she could face teenage sensation Mirra Andreeva and 2022 Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins in the opening rounds.
Yet she is relishing the challenge of pushing for glory in front of the adoring American public and her US Open outfit for 2023 has been revealed ahead of her first-round match.
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The Coco CG1 ‘City Brights’ kit will certainly be eye-catching under the lights in New York, with kit makers New Balance ensuring their star performer stands out at the US Open.
Now Gauff needs to live up to her star billing and she is relishing the challenge.
“I know I’m up right now, and I know I’m going to experience a down,” said Gauff, reflecting on her win in Cincinnati.
“I think that’s really where the mindset has changed. Sometimes I’ll let a loss get too much into me. I realise that everybody loses, even the best of the best.
“I learned a lot over these last couple weeks – more so on my wins, I think than I have in the past.
“The most I’ve learned over the course of this summer is that I don’t have to play A-plus tennis to win.
“Obviously going into the match, you hope to play the best tennis you can play, but it’s not possible all the time.
“Sometimes I think when I wasn’t playing my best tennis or wasn’t playing great, I would kind of shut down a little bit mentally. Now I’m just figuring it out as I go.”
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