Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
THE MODERATOR: Very strong performance for you. What were you most proud of today?
COCO GAUFF: Definitely my returns. Maddie is a big server so, like, I was surprised how many returns I was able to get in the court.
Even in the second set I missed some, but I think in the first set I returned very well.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Iga next. You’ve played her five times. How do you see that kind of challenge, knowing you still haven’t gotten one of those?
COCO GAUFF: I mean, no pressure. She’s playing at the top of her game. Well, I don’t know, because last year we said the same thing. She’s playing really well. I don’t think she’s gotten the five since someone got the five since Rybakina at Australian Open.
It’s going to be a challenge. But, to be honest, I think it’s a good matchup just to see where I can maybe improve on.
You know, there’s no pressure for me. I’m just going to go out there swinging. Whatever happens happens. You just kind of have to go in believing you can win even when the odds seem stacked against you.
Q. I wanted to ask you on the conditions and the balls in particular. Obviously there’s a change this year. Are you one of those who feels these changes? Are you one of the players that just comes on the court and…
COCO GAUFF: I’m just kind of come on the court. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t really know the difference between the Regular Duty and the other one until maybe two years ago. I just come on the court and play.
I knew there was discussion about changing the balls. Definitely helps when at least the swing is the same ball. I remember last year Doha and Dubai were different.
Definitely I think it helps. Probably reduces the amount of injuries, as well. That’s at least what I’ve heard from other players.
Like I said, I’m not particular on that type of stuff. Growing up, we just played with all types of balls and we didn’t really care if they were new or not.
The only thing I do do is change my racquet every ball change. I can feel a difference between the new balls.
Q. Can you talk to us about your composure on the tennis court. Do you always remain this calm or did you have to teach yourself to do it?
COCO GAUFF: Oh, definitely teach myself. I’m still not perfect. There’s moments where I definitely get frantic. But I think it’s improving.
I feel like at least now, the last couple matches, you can’t really get more calm than this. I’m not trying to go on the court and not crack a reaction at all. Unless you’re like Roger, it’s quite impossible. There’s times I might get on myself. That’s just my personality. I think it’s more so not necessarily the reaction, it’s more so how fast you can reset from that reaction.
I think that’s what I try to focus on, is letting my emotions happen, but resetting as quickly as possible.
Q. Have you done something, Yoga, meditation? Have you done something specifically for that?
COCO GAUFF: I try to meditate. I’ll be honest, I’m terrible (smiling). It’s something that I’m trying to incorporate more. It’s not even a weekly routine at this point. It’s like monthly, biweekly. I’m trying to do better.
I think it just comes from experiences. I know I don’t play my best tennis when I’m not relaxed. Also I feel like now playing on tour, like, I didn’t play as many junior tournaments as the average junior player did. Like, when I lost, I knew I had three or four weeks before I would play another tournament, where I feel like with the tour, it feels almost a little bit better knowing you have another chance maybe next week or two weeks later.
That’s something that I think has also helped that kind of feeling, knowing that you have another shot next week. Especially when I was playing in juniors, I would really play the Grade 1’s before the slams, then the slams. Every kind of match mattered, which it does in this structure obviously. I just felt like losing, I would dwell on that loss for weeks, whereas the tour forces you to dwell on that loss for a day, then you have to get back to it.
Q. Coco, they say you’re the future of women’s tennis. How do you manage that? Does it put any pressure on you?
COCO GAUFF: Definitely it puts pressure on you. I never label myself that. I always said I just want to be the best that I can be. It definitely adds pressure to it, especially when you have these losses, people say things about you, the rest of your life.
I have to remind myself I think I have a long career ahead of me, so I can’t really dwell on the outside comments early. I also have to remind myself, just looking at other players, their experience, how they’ve kind of had a bad year one year, then had a great year the next year.
I remember before Iga won Roland Garros, she had lost like a bunch of matches before. Same with Sabalenka. That swing in January last year, she wasn’t playing her best. She still had a good year last year, even though she says she didn’t feel like. She still made top eight.
But it’s just like those experiences, I have to just remind myself that’s life. There’s ups and downs and you have to just wait for your moment and keep working hard for that moment.
Q. I know your brother plays baseball.
COCO GAUFF: Yes.
Q. I know he’s younger than you. How much conversation do you have about your different sports, the mental side of things? Anything you can learn from him?
COCO GAUFF: Both my brothers play sports, and it’s quite different, the personalities. Codey, I feel like I help him a little bit more. I don’t talk to him a lot about it because my parents are already on top of it, but just the work ethic of it all. He’s a teenage boy. He’s in school, like regular school. I did online school, so I didn’t have as many distractions. I do talk to him on that aspect, like you have to want it for yourself, no one can want it for you, that aspect.
And then my youngest brother Cameron, he kind of reminds me of myself: very passionate and fiery, but his emotions can get really high and really low.
He’s probably the most athletic out of all the three of us. I think the problem with him is that he’s not a team player, so we need to work on that aspect (laughter).
Apparently he was at his game, he would roll his eyes or throw his hands when his teammates were making mistakes. My dad got on him. He’s like, You can’t do that. So that’s one thing.
I think what I learned most from both my brothers, from Codey, just his calmness of entering the field. I just feel like he knows he’s good, but he also doesn’t. So that’s kind of how you have to be when you’re on the court. You have to feel like you’re the best. You can’t feel you’re the worst. But you also have to know there’s someone behind you working.
Then Cameron, he thinks he is the best. We don’t have to worry about that. I wish I had his confidence. I have a pretty high confidence, but that kid, he has the highest confidence I’ve ever seen. That’s something I would want to take from him.
Q. I saw your parents are here. A lot of the players say, the ones that are coached by their parents, sometimes they need space, traveling too much together. How do you balance that?
COCO GAUFF: Yeah, so last week my dad didn’t come to Doha with me. It was a decision, like, that I’ve…
I think he was always scared to kind of say it, but it’s something I push more on him. I have two younger brothers at home. I would say my dad definitely, I mean, naturally he understands football and baseball and basketball, those sports, more than tennis.
I definitely say they need him now at this time in their life. Now that I’m getting older, I have Diego helping me, I kind of say you don’t have to be here every week. It was taking a toll on the whole family in general. I’m thankful my brothers, I never felt that pressure, they know why my dad can’t be there.
He decided to come this week. My mom was actually going to go back. She decided she wanted to see Dubai, so she stayed.
There will definitely be more tradeoffs happening this year. Also since my brother is entering high school, he needs, like, a dad figure. Every son needs their dad, so…
Q. Cameron plays?
COCO GAUFF: Plays everything: tennis, baseball, basketball. He doesn’t know what he wants to do. He’s still young so he can do it all. He’ll have to make a decision pretty soon.
Q. I wanted to ask you if you see that there is more consistency in women’s tennis now at the top of the game. Sabalenka, Rybakina, obviously Swiatek, yourself. Do you see more of that now than maybe, say, two years ago?
COCO GAUFF: Yeah, definitely. I definitely think there’s more consistency on the tour. I also think I feel like people are maturing almost. The game is maturing. I feel like we had a little gap between Serena’s generation and maybe a little bit the generation above me. I think there was, like, a big gap.
I guess now you can kind of see some of the players during that generation are retiring or focusing on other things in their life. It kind of transitions into more consistency for this generation, I guess.
I don’t know. I feel like I’m kind of in the middle. I’m part of that generation, then I’m part of a generation that’s a little bit behind it. It’s like in the middle.
But, yeah, I definitely think it just comes with people getting older, as well, with Iga, Aryna, Elena. We’re all a couple years apart from each other.
I think it’s fun. It makes it interesting when there’s consistency. That’s kind of how other sports are structured. You kind of know which teams are going to win – maybe. It also puts pressure on the people at the top and makes it more ambitious for people going into it, I feel like, because you want to beat this person because they’re so consistent, at the top. I think that makes the game exciting.
I’m glad to be part of it. I hope I can stay consistent. I hope there’s some other dogs that come and take some people out, too. I think it makes tennis fun.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports