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Coco Gauff on Bigger Belief

By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, July 1, 2021

Seeded for the first time at Wimbledon, Coco Gauff has a deep-rooted belief she can make another second-week run.

The 20th-seeded Gauff powered past 2016 semifinalist Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-3 into the Wimbledon third round for the second time.

More: Federer Flies Into 18th Wimbledon Third Round

Two years ago, a 15-year-old Gauff electrified the tennis world as the American qualifier fought off two match points stunning Polona Hercog, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5, to charge into the Wimbledon round of 16 in her debut.

These days, Gauff is stronger, sharper and playing shrewder points in just her third career grass-court main-draw appearance. The 17-year-old Gauff says she's empowered by a significantly stronger sense of self-belief.

"I would say I have more of a belief," Gauff said. "I don't really like the word 'expectations', I don't like that word. I think I use more the other word 'belief.' I believe that I can win. I think I believed that back in 2019, and I believe that now.

"I don't think anything has changed. My goal is to always win the tournament regardless of my ranking or what people think of me. What I will say is that goal I guess is more clear right now than it was in 2019. I think just my belief is a lot stronger now, the feeling that I can go far."

The Delray Beach-born baseliner gained more confidence from a career-best quarterfinal performance at Roland Garros where she held set points before bowing to eventual-champion Barbora Krejcikova, who swept both singles and doubles titles.

The youngest woman to qualify for Wimbledon in Open Era history, Gauff is the youngest woman still standing in this draw and has the ability to extend her run.

Third-seeded Elina Svitolina lost to Magda Linette in today's second round. Svitolina is the fifth Top 10 seed to bow out, joining seven-time champion Serena Williams, two-time champion Petra Kvitova, 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu and ninth-seeded Belinda Bencic, who all fell at the first hurdle.

That opens the draw up for Gauff, who faces Slovenia's Kaja Juvan for a spot in the fourth round and a possible clash vs. three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber, one of only two former Wimbledon champions still in the draw.

"I think the biggest thing is just being smart on the court," Gauff said. "I feel like sometimes I have to make the other opponent play. I feel like sometimes I try to overplay and overcompensate in situations that I don't need to.

"I think sometimes the best shot is just putting it in the court compared to going for the line or something. That's something that I have to fight myself on because my instinct is to go big." Photo credit: Getty