Gauff hoping a return to Paris brings out her best tennis
Coco Gauff hopes returning to Paris can help her find a new groove.
The 19-year-old reached her first grand slam singles final at the French Open last summer, losing a one-sided contest to Iga Swiatek.
She began this season by winning a WTA title in Auckland but has struggled recently, failing to make it past the third round at any of her last four tournaments and suffering some heavy defeats.
Having established herself as a top-10 player, Gauff is now seeking the right path to move forward on and off the court.
“I would have liked to approach it (the tournament) the same way but I feel that’s not realistic because I am a different person than I was last year,” she said.
“I think I just have to find the way I want to approach it for this version of myself now. That comes through trial and error.
“I feel like for some reason, though, I always seem to find that in Paris. I don’t know if it’s the city or the vibe here that makes me a lot more at ease.
“I think there’s always things I would like to keep from myself a year ago and things I would like to get rid of. I have to figure out what things I want to keep and what things I don’t want to keep. I think that’s just learning about yourself.
“No matter how young or how old I am, I think I’m always going to be in this process of learning about myself. But I feel like even more in these years as I’m transitioning into being like a real adult.”
Gauff is back working with Serena Williams’ former coach Patrick Mouratoglou having split from Diego Moyano and is trying to take more ownership of her tennis.
The American is a superb athlete and has one of the sport’s best backhands but her forehand is not nearly as reliable and is often cited as the weakness holding her back.
“I’m used to being told what to do and I just do it,” said Gauff. “So I guess now I’m trying to find, and I think Patrick and previous coaches want me to be more vocal about my game and about what I want to do.
“Obviously the forehand is something that I have to improve on, but on clay especially I feel like it’s one of my weapons. Last year, I won a lot of points using that heavy forehand, and I think that that’s something I continue to do this year.
“I feel pretty confident going into this tournament regardless of how other people view my game.”
Gauff will begin her tournament on Monday or Tuesday against Spain’s Rebeka Masarova.
Second seed Aryna Sabalenka opens play on Philippe Chatrier on Sunday against Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk while third seed Jessica Pegula meets fellow American Danielle Collins.