“I Was Too Focused On Trying To Fulfill Other People’s Expectations” | Coco Gauff Continues Tradition Of Black Girl Tennis Magic At French Open

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Cori “Coco” Gauff has advanced to the first major semifinal of her career with a 7-5, 6-2 win over fellow American and former US Open Champion Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals of the French Open. Gauff leaned on her experience in last year’s quarterfinal and was mentally tough in the big moments. Gauff’s mindset and mature approach have her two matches away from her first major title.

“I feel so happy right now. Words can’t explain. Last year in the quarterfinal it was a tough loss for me,” said Gauff post-match. “I think that match made me stronger, to better prepare for moments like today and the moments I’ll face in the next round.”
“Last time I played her I lost, so I’m glad that today went different. Honestly, I told myself to stay mentally there. I know that there were going to be some shots that probably should have been made and there’s going to be some shots that she’d get in the court that probably no other player would get in the court.
“I think it was just a mental challenge today. I mean, yeah, I believe in myself, but I think even last year I was too focused on trying to fulfil other people’s expectations. I think you should just enjoy life.”

The challenge for any athlete is to move on to the next play, point or moment. Particularly after a poor play at a critical juncture. The ones that can do this the best are the elite of the elite. Gauff is showing an incredible ability to do that at a young age. She is managing to keep herself emotionally level as the stakes get higher so she can execute when she needs to.

This may seem simple or something that every athlete should be able to do. But it isn’t. There’s a reason most people who play sports aren’t professionals. Yes, there is talent and skill. But the ability to perform in moments is also a reason.

Gauff hasn’t dropped a set so far this tournament, although in the first it looked like that streak was possibly going to come to an end. She served for the set at 5-3, when Stephens broke and grabbed control, getting back on serve.

Doubt and all sorts of negative thoughts could have crept in at that moment. Gauff, though, reclaimed momentum at 6-5, earning triple set point after some incredible defense to draw an error from Stephens. Two points later, Gauff won the set with a crisp backhand winner.

 

Gauff will face unseeded Italian Martina Trevisan, who is also playing in her first semifinal, for a spot in the French Open final. This is a rematch from two years ago when Trevisan upset Gauff in the second round at Roland Garros en route to the Italian’s first major quarterfinal.

If Gauff is learning from past matches and moments, as she is saying and proving during this tournament, expect her to play much better than she did in that match against Trevisan in 2020. But ultimately Gauff will do what she’s been doing. Focusing on what she can control and living with the results. Two more wins and it will be her best result ever.