May 26, 2023 _ PARIS (Reuters) – American teenager Coco Gauff hopes a return to Paris will help her rediscover the spark that has so far been missing during what has been a disappointing claycourt season.
Gauff, still only 19, reached the French Open final last year, losing to Iga Swiatek, and will be seeded sixth for this year’s tournament which begins on Sunday.
She managed only three wins in the three claycourt events she has contested in the build-up and admits that she is a “different person” to the one that reached the final as she makes the transition into adulthood.
But being back in the French capital helps.
“I think that I got here earlier than most. My first hit was Monday and I was pretty much the third person in the locker room I think the attendee told me,” Gauff told reporters.
“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, 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 don’t know if it’s because I know I need to lock in for this tournament or if it’s just I love this city.
“Pretty much when I touch down here I just feel a little bit more at ease than the previous tournaments this season.”
Gauff has been working during the clay season with Serena Williams’ former coach Patrick Mouratoglou although she says she still does not have a full-time coach.
“I have a great relationship with Patrick. I have known him since I was 10 years old and obviously been on the court with him before,” she said. “I thought he would be a perfect person to help me during this time.
“I’m looking forward to the next two weeks with him.”
Gauff faces Spain’s Rebeka Masarova in the opening round as she sets her sights on another long run, even if this time she is perhaps a little under the radar.
“I feel pretty confident going into this tournament regardless of how other people view my game. But none of that matters when I step on the court,” she said.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)