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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Thursday, May 16, 2024
On Rome's red clay, Americans are taking aim at a major myth.

Don't believe Americans can't do the dirty work on clay, says Coco Gauff.

More: Break-Ups and Love Matches

Following her 6-4, 6-3 Rome semifinal loss to world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, Gauff said U.S. compatriots are rewriting the age-old narrative that Americans don't like dirt.

Pointing to Miami Open champion Danielle Collins' run to the Rome semifinals as well as 14th-seeded Tommy Paul dethroning defending champion Daniil Medvedev and Hubert Hurkacz in succession to reach his maiden Rome semifinal, Gauff said people underestimate Americans on clay.

"Specifically Tommy and Danielle are people that I always root for, even though I wouldn't necessarily say we're super close," Gauff told the media in Rome. "We speak all the time. Danielle and I, I love her. Me and her got closer after the Billie Jean King Cup we did together.

"She's just a great person honestly. I love to see her do well. I think if you ask her, she loves to see me do well.

"I think it is a camaraderie. I think it does push us to be better. I think on clay people underestimate Americans and they think we hate the European swing. I was hoping maybe I could win and Tommy could win and it would be an American sweep."

Paul said a group of about 20 Americans came together for a group dinner in Rome earlier in the tournament.

Andre Agassi, the 2002 Rome champion, is the last American man to rule Rome.

Serena Williams defeated compatriot Madison Keys in the 2016 Rome final for her fourth Italian Open crown.

Former world No. 1 Serena Williams remains the last American woman to win Rome.

US Open champion Gauff is rooting for Collins, who faces world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka in the semifinals, to come through too.

"But if it's not me, I would love for it to be Danielle," Gauff said. "If this is her farewell tour, I think she deserves it a lot. I was hoping I could win today to play her in the final."

Photo credit: Eric Espada/Getty for ITF Billie Jean King Cup