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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday March 24, 2024

Coco Gauff

Coco Gauff overcame 17 double faults to reach a milestone win at Indian Wells.

Photo Source: Getty

Indian Wells – Her coach Brad Gilbert’s book, “Winning Ugly,” must sit on her coffee table at home, because it’s uncanny how good Coco Gauff has become at winning in spite of herself.

Tennis Express

Take Thursday on Stadium 2 at Indian Wells, for instance. The 2023 US Open poured in 17 double faults in a set and a half and still came away with a relatively easy 6-4, 6-3 win over 49th-ranked Yuan Yue of China to reach her maiden semifinal at the BNP Paribas Open.

Afterwards, Gauff took the less than stellar service performance in stride, saying: “It wasn't the best style of the serving, but overall I think when it comes to the groundstroke game and returns, everything else, honestly, I played well. I just try and take the positives into the next match.”

In a nutshell, that is the essence of Gauff’s success of late. She has so many tools at her disposal that if one isn’t working she can just rely on a few other of the tricks she has in her bag.

The plus movement, and zeroed in backhand are always there, as is the confidence that comes from becoming a Grand Slam champion as a teenager.

The recently turned 20-year-old explained it well in her post-match press conference. 17 double faults is no cause for panic when there’s still many other ways to make up for it and to win a match.

“I definitely think it's one of those matches I could have lost, and I have lost before in the past. I think for me the difference is that, you know, I know if one part of my game is off I have a lot of other tools I can rely on,” she said. “Today I pretty much just relied on me just out-rallying her and being aggressive. I think a lot of breakpoints that were saved were off of, like, at least on that second set, I just remember hitting, like, a lot of forehand winners.

“I think for me it was just I didn't let one part of my game affect the other parts, which I think I used to do. Now I'm just trying to also not be too self-critical of myself where it damages me. So I think today was one of those things just trusting my other parts of the game.”

It’s hard to count Gauff out against anyone with that type of self-belief guiding her.

That said, her tests will get tougher at Indian Wells, where she hopes to become the first American to come away with the title since Serena Williams did so in 2001.

Gauff will face No.9-seeded Maria Sakkari, who ended the run of Emma Navarro late on Thursday night, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, next.

“Maria I've played a couple times now,” Gauff said, referring to the pair’s previous seven matches (Sakkari leads 4-3, but Gauff has won the last two). “I think the last time I played her was D.C. and that went my way. I think every time playing her, she's a tough opponent, she's very athletic and explosive. She doesn't give you much. She'll take advantage. You know, I've lost to her before and I've won before. It will be a tough match.”


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