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June 5, 2021

Coco Gauff

Paris, France

Press Conference

C. GAUFF/J. Brady

6-1, [Ret.]

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. I'm wondering, did you know heading into the match that Jennifer might have any problems? If not, when did you pick up on the fact that she was having some physical trouble out there?

COCO GAUFF: To be honest, I didn't know she had problems until right before my match. My dad told me, you know, because we go through like the scouting report, my dad told me towards the end of her match -- I don't remember which day it was -- but towards the end of her match against Ferro she was maybe struggling a little bit.

It became visible, I would say, mid second set. You know, she was limping a little bit.

But, yeah, it's unfortunate because I have known Jenny very well, and she's such a nice person. I don't think if you ask every player on tour, no one is going to say anything bad about her because she's always laughing and joking around. So I just hope that by the time Wimbledon comes she'll be healed up and ready to compete at 100% again.

Q. What's it like when you're playing an opponent who you can tell is not able to play 100% physically? Is that difficult at all to, I don't know, stay focused or not worry about what's going on with them and make sure you play your own game and not sort of take for granted that they're not going to be able to play the way they want to?

COCO GAUFF: Yeah. For me, the biggest thing I was just focusing on my end of the court. You know, you never want to see a player hurt, especially someone that you know pretty well.

So there was like a point in the match where I was, you know, I was a little bit tight just because, you know, when they're hurt you kind of feel bad. But you have to remember this is a match too, and if they are still on the court competing they're going to give it their all regardless if they are hurt or not.

I have to remind myself of that as well on the court.

Q. Can you just characterize or give us your thoughts on your first week at Roland Garros? I mean, how do you feel your level has been? Has it felt businesslike, in a way, coming in with the confidence from Parma and everything? What's your overall take?

COCO GAUFF: I think with each match it's getting better and better. You know, even though today Jenny wasn't 100%, I do think that I played well for the first set.

Then also in my match second round I thought that I played well the majority of the match. You know, I just feel like I'm getting better and better with each match, and that's kind of how I want it to happen.

This is I think my second or third, second or third time in the second week of a slam. And I will say this is probably, like my journey to it, has probably been the most professional, I guess, like no, you know, unnecessary three-set matches and stuff like that.

I think that you can tell that I'm improving and making smarter decisions on the court.

Q. I ask the same question to Sloane this afternoon, but American girls perform so well during this Roland Garros. How could you explain it? Because you are seven, I think, in the top 30.

COCO GAUFF: Oh, I guess we're all doing well. I don't keep track of rankings, I don't know. But, no, I think it was like three matchups in the third round, all American matchups, which is pretty good.

Obviously we probably want to play each other later in the tournament, but it's pretty good to show that American tennis is going strong. I honestly think that we're all just pushing each other even more, because we are always practicing with each other and playing practice matches and practice sets with each other. I think that we are all just kind of competing with each other but also supporting each other.

I think right now, like, with at least the American girls, we all have pretty good energy on tour, and I think it shows in our results.

Q. Can you tell us your story with this surface, which is not necessarily natural for all American players?

COCO GAUFF: Yeah. My first national title was when I was 10, I won the 12-and-Under Clay Court Nationals. Yeah, I have good results on clay and obviously the junior title in 2018, I think.

I don't know. I just feel like, I guess, most of my experience on clay actually came from, like, training at the Mouratoglou Academy. I have been going there every year since I was 10. I have been spending at least six weeks out of the year, even more in some years, on clay. So I think it kind of just gives me a familiar vibe, something that maybe other American players don't have, because in the U.S. we don't really have red clay.

But, yeah, I think it just comes -- you know, I move well on the clay, and I just feel comfortable with it. I think the most important on clay, at least in my perspective, is just your movement. If you feel comfortable moving, everything else will kind of come along with it.

Q. You're playing Ons Jabeur next, another junior champion. She brings a lot of different shots to the court. What's the biggest challenge you'll face playing her in the next round? Also, there are a lot of junior champions in the draw. What's the biggest step or the most important learning process going from juniors to the seniors?

COCO GAUFF: Yeah, for your first question with Ons, you know, I played her, I think, twice now. This will be my third time.

You know, obviously she's a difficult player to play on any surface, but especially clay. I have to be ready to run a lot. We all know she loves dropshots and doesn't really give you much of a rhythm. She's also good on the back too, especially on the forehand side.

I think I just have to be ready for anything with her. You never know what happens.

I always enjoy playing her. Yes, it's frustrating, but it's just you're never going to have a match like that only against her, to be honest. It will be exciting.

For your second question, in my perspective, I think the biggest thing transferring juniors to pros, especially like I was used to winning on the junior level, you know, winning the first three or four rounds in a slam or grade, grade 1, was, you know, fairly, not as difficult. Then when you come to pros, every match you have to give your all, 100%.

I think the biggest thing, like I have a couple of my friends who are, you know, changing, starting that transition from pro to juniors and also have a friend who is playing her first or second junior slam this year, and I would say the biggest thing is just the pace of the ball and the competitiveness, because you have to compete for every point.

On the pro tour, there is not many matches where players are going to check out. In juniors sometimes you have a lead, maybe 6-2, 3-0, 3-1, and you'll notice players start to check out. Here it's not like that. I feel on edge really until the last point is played.

I think my biggest advice for players, from what I have learned, is just that you have to give your all every point. You can't let your guard down because, you know, everybody here wants to win, and everybody here wants to, you know, be the best player that they can be, and you have to bring it in the matches.

Q. Staying on that junior theme, you and Iga and Marta Kostyuk are all in the round of 16, were all juniors around the same time. I don't know if you played Marta, but I know different combinations of the three of you have played. Is it weird to then now see, you know, you all in the locker room in the second week of a major, you know, still quite young, just knowing that you kind of all competed also on the junior level? I don't know if there is anything trippy about it at all.

COCO GAUFF: For me, not really. I would say just because like they were a little older than me, so they were winning, like, before I was winning so I was still always, like, you know, be up there with them.

For me, I just feel like -- I don't know. I don't really feel -- it doesn't feel weird in the locker room. But I will say that it's pretty cool to see, you know, young players doing well.

I think for fans it's probably exciting, because, you know, it's more like, especially after COVID, a lot of players are starting to retire. So I think for the fan perspective, at least from what people, my family, they think it's interesting how, you know, this new generation of, you know, tennis players is coming.

And also, like, on the guys' side, I notice we have a lot of guys I played in the same tournaments with starting to do well, like Musetti and the Spanish player, Carlos, I don't know how to pronounce his last name so I'm not even going to try. I played juniors with them.

So it's pretty interesting, kind of cool to see us all doing well, especially, I think Musetti won today so he's in the second week.

That's pretty cool, I would say, just to see, like, I guess the new generation of tennis coming up. I don't know about you guys, but at least being a part of it is exciting. I hope for you guys it's fun to watch.

Q. You don't know any different because you have only had your experience, but what's it like being so young and being such an integral part of what is essentially a family business for you?

COCO GAUFF: I think for me, you know, being young -- I don't know. I just feel like when I came, first came on tour, I felt like I had pressure to win and do all this, because people came out with a lot of expectations for me, saying I was going to be the next this or next that.

After having conversations with different coaches and different players that are on tour, I realized, I've just got to be myself and have fun on the court. I will say I'm having fun on the court even in the pressure moments. Like I remember in my first round this week, even though I was down, like, set points and had a really tough tiebreaker, I was really enjoying that competitiveness and being under pressure.

I feel like maybe a year, probably like two years ago or a year ago, that's probably a moment that I wouldn't be in, I would be super stress and I wouldn't enjoy it. I think now I've just been really appreciating these moments on tour because I have to remind myself, like, so many people are working hard to be where I'm at today. The least I can do is just enjoy it, because, you know, you never know when life -- you never know when life is going to be taken from you, and I just want to really live it to the fullest.

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