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Gauff: Must Change My Mentality

By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Saturday, March 25, 2023

MIAMI—Patience is a virtue, but playing the waiting game has been costly for Coco Gauff.

Facing Tests: Miami Open Photo Gallery

Anastasia Potapova toppled the sixth-seeded Gauff 6-7(8), 7-5, 6-2 to reach the Miami Open round of 16.

It is Potapova's third career Top 10 victory.

The 19-year-old Gauff's electric speed and comprehensive court coverage are major weapons, but after this loss Gauff said in her 2023 defeats she's been too reliant on her movement and retrieval skills.

Passivity proved costly today as Potapova stepped closer to the baseline and was cracking drives reeling off the final five games.

"I think that's kind of been where I've been messing up in all my matches this year," Gauff said afterward. "All the ones I've lost I think I lost because of [being too defensive].

"I think it should be more used as a tool in a toolbox than as a weapon. I think I have to change my mentality in the game about not relying on that too much because I think sometimes I play a little bit too passive because I know I can get to balls."

The last four women to raise Grand Slam title trophies—Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek, Elena Rybakina and the retired Ash Barty—all possess point-ending power.

So too does Gauff.

The Roland Garros runner-up can crank her first serve in excess of 115 mph and is skilled stepping into the court to crack her two-handed backhand on the rise.

Gauff knows she can hit the ball big, the question is can she do it at crunch time?

It comes down to using her speed proactively and taking the first strike when it's there.

"All the players that are doing well now on tour are big hitters," Gauff said. "It's not like I don't have the tools to hit big, because I definitely do, I think it's just more so making that the first decision." 

Photo credit: Matthew Calvis