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Gauff: I'll Continue to Prove Critics Wrong

By Richard Pagliaro

Short-term memory loss is vital for sustained success on the pro circuit.

Sometimes a long memory helps too.

More: Gauff Stops Sabalenka, Will Play Barty in Rome Quarterfinals

Reflecting on her run to the 2019 Wimbledon fourth round as a 15-year-old qualifier, Coco Gauff says her inspired SW19 run—and the sting of skeptics who dismissed her as overrated and over-hyped—continue to propel her career today.

The 35th-ranked American says she's committed to silencing the skeptics who branded her "a fluke" following her 2019 Wimbledon performance where she arrived as SW19 ranked No. 313, won three rounds in qualifying, upset Venus Williams in the opening round and reached the round of 16 where she fell to eventual-champion Simona Halep.

"Obviously I want to keep going and keep going further," Gauff said in Rome today. "I'm not going to be satisfied until I reach my goal.

"Especially during that time [2019 Wimbledon] people were saying, It's a fluke, it will never happen again. I think I've proved all those people wrong. I'm going to continue to prove them wrong."

The 17-year-old Gauff delivered one of the most dynamic matches of her career defeating Madrid champion Aryna Sabalenka 7-5, 6-3 to reach the Rome quarterfinals for the first time on Thursday.

It is Gauff's second win in three meetings over Sabalenka, who topped world No. 1 Ash Barty in the Mutua Madrid Open final on Saturday. The Delray Beach, Florida-based teenager improved to 2-2 lifetime vs. Top 5-ranked opponents.

Gauff's reward for beating the fourth-ranked Belarusian is a quarterfinal showdown vs. the top-seeded Barty, who leads the WTA Tour in 2021 victories with a sparkling 27-4 record and will test the American's forehand with her slice backhand.

Tennis Express

Pushing to crack the Top 20, Gauff said sharper shot selection, accepting the consequences of decisions she makes on court and learning from loss have been keys to her progress.

"I definitely feel I'm more confident on the court in my shots and my decisions," Gauff said. "I think it just comes with experience, to be honest. When you make a bunch of mistakes, you know what to do, what not to do.

"When you're still learning like me, sometimes you feel you're not confident in the decision you make. I think now I'm trying to be more confident in the decisions I make and accept the mistakes that I make, too."

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve