French Open: Coco playing better than ever but not thinking about title tilt

By Sports Desk June 07, 2021

Coco Gauff acknowledges she is playing her best ever tennis at a grand slam tournament but is not yet thinking about winning the French Open.

The 17-year-old reached her first major quarter-final by brilliantly beating Ons Jabeur 6-3 6-1 in the fourth round on Monday.

Gauff said afterwards she was "definitely still learning" how to play on clay, but her progress on the biggest stage is evident – to herself and others.

"Yeah, it definitely does feel different," she said. "I just feel like it's been, I guess, professional.

"I feel like all my matches have been pretty straightforward wins, like no crazy three sets and stuff. As we know, I have had a lot of those in the past.

"I just feel like this has been the most consistent tennis I have played at this level. Hopefully I can keep that going."

Gauff had previously reached the fourth round at the Australian Open and Wimbledon but lost on both occasions.

"I think I was just more hungry for it," she said this time.

"I feel like in the past I felt like I was satisfied with the run I made in the tournament, so maybe I feel like I came into the matches not as hungry. I know it's probably not a good thing to say but it's the truth.

"But I think, with a lot of young players, we tend to get satisfied with certain results before we realise that we can really shoot for more.

"You know, my message has always been 'dream big and aim higher'.

"I think that today was honestly coming from that message of aiming higher, because I could have easily said I'm satisfied with the fourth round and everything.

"Today I think I just came in more hungry and wanting more compared to my last times I have been in the fourth round."

The American sensation is now just three wins away from a remarkable first grand slam triumph, but she is not getting ahead of herself.

Gauff refused to be distracted even from an ongoing UNO tournament with her parents in their hotel room, in which she says she leads the way with 16 wins.

"To be honest, I haven't really thought about [the championship]," she said. "I'm really just focused on the match ahead of me.

"I don't want to think too far. You have to focus on what's in front of you. That's really the only answer I have.

"Right now, I'm focused on going to sleep tonight and winning the next UNO match and then tomorrow we focus back on practice and then get ready for the quarter-finals."

Gauff became the youngest major quarter-finalist since 2006 with her win.

"I don't really care if you guys talk about my age or not," she said. "I'm 17. That's the truth. If you guys want to talk about it, it's fine.

"I mean, on the court, I promise you my opponents probably don't care about how old I am. They want to beat me just as bad regardless of my age, and I want to beat them just as bad regardless of their age.

"I don't mind if you guys talk about my age. It's a fact to me and it's going to change every year.

"I'm only going to be 17 once, so you might as well talk about it while I'm 17."

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