Renowned tennis coach Eric Riley believes that Coco Gauff must make substantial improvements to her game in order to stand a chance of winning a Grand Slam title in 2024.
Gauff's stellar 2023 season culminated in her claiming a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Aryna Sabalenka in the US Open final to clinch her maiden Grand Slam title. Her success has carried over into 2024, as she successfully defended her title at the ASB Classic to kick off the year.
The American appeared to be in dominant form at the Australian Open as well, breezing through to the quarterfinals without dropping a set. She then claimed a hard-fought 7-6(6), 6-7(3), 6-2 win over Marta Kostyuk to reach the semifinals, setting the stage for a rematch of the US Open final against Sabalenka. However, the Belarusian defeated the 19-year-old on this occasion, winning 7-6(2), 6-4, en route to her second consecutive title at the Melbourne Slam.
During a recent appearance on the 'Tennis Channel Inside-In' podcast, Eric Riley praised Coco Gauff for reaching the Australian Open semifinals. However, he cautioned that climbing the ranks as an underdog was easier than meeting expectations as a top contender.
"Now Coco won the US Open, and she followed it up with a Grand Slam semi right? That's exceptional. It's much easier to climb the ranks when you're an underdog than when you're expected to win," he said (at 0:42).
Riley then stated that Gauff's coach, Brad Gilbert, who previously worked with the likes of Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick, would ensure that the 19-year-old doesn't regress.
"Obviously, Coco Gauff having Brad Gilbert in her corner, who's an experienced coach, that's really going to be good for them because he's not going to let her slip," he said.
Riley further suggested that Gilbert would be keenly aware that Coco Gauff's performance to win the 2023 US Open title wouldn't be enough for her to win her second Grand Slam title in 2024. He asserted that the World No. 3 needed to address her weaknesses and make the necessary improvements in order to achieve success this season.
"Because he understands that what won the US Open, the quality of the work she did to win the US Open [in 2023] is not going to win in 2024, it's not going to win a Major. So, Brad knows that and she's going to have to play better this year and she's going to have to improve," he said.
"Which means she has to, like I said earlier, you gotta work on weaknesses, you gotta build confidence, you have to have purposeful practice where you've got to work your tail off because you've got a target on your back. It doesn't get easy now, it gets harder," he added.
Maria Sharapova: "I was so impressed with how Coco Gauff handled the US Open victory"
In a recent interview, Maria Sharapova praised the new generation of players in women's tennis, highlighting Coco Gauff and Mirra Andreeva in particular. She lauded Gauff's 2023 US Open triumph, stating that she was "impressed" by the 19-year-old.
"I've loved watching a new generation rise up to the occasion. I was so impressed with how Coco handled the [US Open] victory in New York last year. Also, it’s great seeing the rise of new names and opportunities for athletes like Mirra Andreeva," she said.
Sharapova also expressed her appreciation for the "refreshing" increase in consistency on the WTA tour.
"We’re seeing so much more consistency in the women's game and that has been really refreshing," she added.
Coco Gauff will next be in action at the Qatar Open, entering the WTA 1000 event as the second seed. Following a bye in the first round, she will take on the winner of the match between Donna Vekic and Katerina Siniakova.