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Coco Gauff Returns to Paris After 2022 French Open Final Run

Coco Gauff French Open

On Tuesday, Coco Gauff returns to the scene of her greatest career triumph to date.

At the 2022 French Open, a then-18-year-old Gauff blasted through the likes of Elise Mertens, Sloane Stephens, and Kaia Kanepi to reach her first career Grand Slam final. It wasn’t until her run was snuffed out by Iga Swiatek that she even dropped a set.

In the year since, Gauff hasn’t quite managed to match those lofty heights, but she’s done little to suggest her career is on anything other than an upward trajectory.

After a disappointing (and possibly fatigue-driven) third round exit at Wimbledon, Gauff spent the summer scoring victories over stars like Naomi Osaka, Aryna Sabalenka, and Bianca Andreescu before making a run to the quarterfinals of the US Open. She kicked off 2023 by winning the ASB Classic and reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open and has since advanced to the semifinals in Dubai and the quarterfinals of Indian Wells.

Less encouraging has been the Atlanta native’s inconsistent clay season to date. Gauff squeaked by Veronika Kudermetova in Stuttgart, only to fall to Anastasia Potapova. At the Madrid Open, she handled 318th-ranked qualifier Irene Burillo Escorihuela, only to get crushed by Paula Badosa. Finally, in Rome, much of the positivity generated from an emphatic 6-0, 6-1 win over Yulia Putintseva was quickly undone by a loss to Marie Bouzkova.

Coco Gauff Finds New Coach

In hopes of finding her game on clay, Gauff has temporarily enlisted the services of former Serena Williams whisperer Patrick Mouratoglou, albeit just for the clay season. The 19-year-old continues to look for a full-time coach since splitting with Diego Moyano back in April and has known Mouratoglou since she was 10.

Now, with Mouratoglou in tow, Gauff is set to return to Roland Garros as a reigning finalist. She’ll open up her defense of a horde of points by facing Rebeka Masarova in an ASB Classic final rematch. From there, she could face either veteran qualifier Arantxa Rus or Austria’s Julia Grabher in the second round. Once the tournament opens up to potential seeded battles in the third round, she could face No. 25 Anhelina Kalinina and then possibly Kudermetova, the No. 11 seed.

With all due respect to her opponents along the way, Gauff has a real path to a deep run here. In fact, you could argue that the toughest fate handed down by the draw gods was a possible 2022 final rematch with Swiatek in the quarters. Ideally, you’d surely prefer to face the world No. 1 and reigning champion as late as possible, but a trip even that deep would mean a successful defense of at least most of last year’s points.

Shaky recent clay results aside, Gauff has plenty working in her favor right now. Whether she can put it all together over the next two weeks will be a key story to watch.

Main Photo Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports


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