Coco Gauff has been glowing in her praise of Serena Williams this week at the US Open, as the 23 time major champion concluded her professional career Friday night.
Gauff, 18, also sung the praises of Australian Nick Kyrgios in her press-conference Friday at Flushing Meadows. The teenage star recalled multiple times at the Miami Open, where despite Kyrgios already being on court for hours, the Australian chose to hit with her.
The first encounter came when she was 13 years old. Kyrgios, who just completed a practice session, stuck around to hit with the rising American star for approximately 30 minutes. The following year, Gauff was even more shocked when Kyrgios concluded a gruelling two-hour practice with Frances Tiafoe and despite thinking he would call it a day at the office, the Aussie continued practising with Gauff for an extra hour.
“I know there’s things on the court that he does that people don’t agree with. I probably don’t agree with some things,” Gauff said. “But it’s just things like [hitting with a young kid] that stands out for me. That’s why I feel like I can never dislike him because constantly when I see him around, he’s always saying hello.
“It’s just moments like that that people don’t really see about him. So I think people paint him as a bad guy. I feel around the grounds, at least my experience of him, he’s not.”
Gauff attests to those experiences with Kyrgios as part of her progression as a teenager, adding that the World No. 25 even offered a word of encouragement about her game.
“I think in the end it helped me in the long run as a player hitting with him,” she said. “He told me good things about my game. At that time I’m like, ‘Nick Kyrgios thinks I’m a good player.’ You start to believe that and gain confidence in that.”
Little did Kyrgios know that the young teen he was pracitising with would someday share the largest tennis venue in the world, Arthur Ashe Stadium, with him in the fourth round of the season’s final Slam. On Sunday, both Gauff and Kyrgios look to advance to the quarter-finals at the US Open. The Aussie meets World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev in a blockbuster match Sunday night, and according to Gauff, she will be a lifetime supporter of Kyrgios.
“If he keeps it up, I think he can go far. He can win the tournament. We all know he has the ability to. He was close at Wimbledon. I always, always root for him, no matter who he’s playing, to be honest,” Gauff said.