New star of women’s tennis appears with less pressure in Australia

MELBOURNE.- Now that the pressure to win a title grand slam of tennis like a teenager came to an end, Coco Gauff she feels liberated enough to talk about her next goal: a double-digit total.

It could be 10, 11 or more… there are no limits. Besides, an Olympic medal in Paris this year. Preferably gold, but silver or bronze are fine…in singles, doubles or mixed.

Will start the Australian Open as reigning champion of a grand slam, something completely new for the 19-year-old American tennis player. If we did not meet expectations last year in the US Open, this would have been his last chance to win a major as a teenager.

Gauff, who turns 20 in March, believes she will have more freedom now as she tries to win her second title as the fourth seed in Melbourne Park.

The tournament starts on Sunday, a day earlier than normal. The defending champion Novak Djokovicwho seeks to extend his record to 11 titles in Australia and 25 in his career, announced that he will play on Sunday night against the 18-year-old Croatian Dino Prizmicwho comes from the qualifying round.

In the first round, Gauff will face the 29-year-old Slovak Anna Karolina Schmeiedlovawho has only made it past the third round once in 35 majors.

After recovering from a surprise first round elimination in Wimbledon, won his first grand slam in New York and helped him change his mentality.

I think I put too much pressure on myself to win a Slam. I felt like I had to do it.Gauff admitted. “When I got to 15, I felt like I had to win a Slam as a teenager because everyone said so.”

It was the defeat in Wimbledon which led her to take a pause, relax and think each round one by one until the final. She thought that losing in the first round would be the worst thing that could happen to her. But it turns out “it wasn’t that bad.”he assured.

Gauff is in the same bracket as the four-time Grand Slam champions, Naomi Osaka and Caroline Wozniackiboth former champions in Australia and who return after becoming mothers.

Other candidates in Australia:

Leylah Fernandezfinalist of the US Open 2021and Maria Sakkari (8) are also there. Australia’s defending champion Aryna Sabalenkacould be his rival in the semifinal.

In previous tournaments, Gauff successfully defended her title in Australia last week and Sabalenka reached the final of Brisbane.

On the other hand, the first in the classification, Iga Swiatekwill have a difficult path, starting against the 2020 Australian champion, Sofia Kenin.

In men, Djokovic has dominated in Melbourne Park and he arrives with a streak of 28 victories there —21 before and seven after he was forced to miss the 2022 edition for not being vaccinated against COVID-19.

He is the only one of the “Big Three” who will compete in the tournament after Rafael Nadal He signed off last week.

But Djokovic has established new rivalries against younger players like Carlos Alcaraz20 years old, who beat him in the final of Wimbledonand the 22-year-old Italian, Jannik Sinner (4).