Rothesay International Eastbourne 2023: Coco Gauff eyes Eastbourne success on return to the grass
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19-year-old American tennis sensation Coco Gauff returns to Eastbourne for the second time in her career – back and ready to challenge on two fronts.
Having first played here in 2021, Gauff is ready to kick start her Rothesay International Eastbourne campaign under very different circumstances. Two years on and she’s now the world No.7 in singles and the No.4 in doubles and will be considered by many a hot favourite for both titles.
“I’m super excited (to get on the grass),” Gauff said with a beaming smile on her face. “The weather has been great, which makes me excited to play tennis and grass is one of my favourite surfaces.
“I’m just happy to be here and I’m hoping I can have a good week here in Eastbourne, before Wimbledon.”
Following the withdrawal of world No.3 Elena Rybakina and Maria Sakkari, Gauff is fourth highest ranked singles player in Eastbourne this year and one of six top 10 players in action. Rothesay Classic Birmingham champion Jelena Ostapenko and German Open winner Petra Kvitova are even set to go head-to-head in the first round of a very competitive draw.
“The draw is pretty strong so you’re more likely to face those top players at the start of the tournament than you are at a Slam,” Gauff explained.
“I think that’s something you want, because in those later rounds of Slams you’ll be facing these same players and the more experience you can get, the better."
Four-years on from her dream debut at Wimbledon – reaching the fourth round from qualifying at just the age of 15 – the grass has been a happy hunting ground for the young American in the past. Heading into Eastbourne and then on to Wimbledon, Gauff is feeling confident on the grass and hopes to lean on her past experiences.
“I have a great serve and I move pretty well so I’m pretty familiar with grass,” she said. “The start of my career was on grass (at Wimbledon) and that also gives an emotional aspect to it, but everyone has special memories at Wimbledon.”
Speaking to a small group of reporters on Sunday, she added: “Eastbourne does remind me of home a little bit so I definitely appreciate being here before Wimbledon and I think Wimbledon just gets really crazy so it’s nice to chill for a bit.”
A growing trend on the WTA Tour has been the rising number of players featuring at the top of both the singles and doubles rankings. Gauff is just one of six players currently in the top 20 across the WTA rankings, whereas all of the top 20 men’s doubles players are all specialists in that area.
“Managing the time between the singles and doubles is something that I’m continuing to learn,” she said. “It can be easy at some tournaments and difficult at others.
“We’re playing together this week – we both wanted to get in as many matches as we can on grass before Wimbledon and playing both draws allows that opportunity.”
Gauff opens her singles campaign in Eastbourne with a tough match against fellow American and world No.27 Bernarda Pera.
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