John McEnroe, Mats Wilander and Barbara Schett have given their thoughts on the progress of rising star Coco Gauff ahead of the 2023 Australian Open.
The 18-year-old American has already broken through to the top 10 in the WTA Tour rankings, reached world No. 1 in doubles and secured a place in her maiden Grand Slam singles final at the French Open last year. But how much further can she go?
All three Eurosport experts were careful not to put too much pressure on the teenager ahead of the opening Grand Slam of the season at Melbourne Park, but McEnroe pointed to her “huge upside that includes winning majors” if she can continue to make key improvements and grow with her game.
“We’re all looking forward to seeing what happens with Coco Gauff and looking at her career trajectory, it’s been great,” McEnroe told Eurosport.
“It hasn’t happened as fast as some people think, but it’s still an upward trajectory. Okay, she didn’t have a great WTA Finals, but all in all, she made some great progress. She got to a French Open final, she has improved, obviously, she needs to improve more. She will – she’s 18.
“There is a huge upside that includes winning majors. It’s not just going to happen. There are certain things that need to take place in her head and in her game. Chris Evert knows a thing or two about winning majors, so perhaps they can carve out some time to work on some things, I think that’s a great idea.
“Take some pressure off because, obviously, there are some very lofty expectations for her. So I think a less-is-more approach, a slower approach for her would be better for her right now, for her family. I would think the idea would be to keep around for 15 years.”
Schett hailed Gauff’s “tremendous” growth already in the sport at such a young age but believes she must now be given time to develop her game and continue to make gradual improvements.
“Well, I think at her age, to be where she’s at, it’s already tremendous and she’s got a pretty close and good team around her,” Schett said. “She’s still learning and you have to give her a bit of time to develop.
“She’s already got to world No. 1 in doubles and in singles she is a fixture in the top 10. Is it enough to be world No. 1? We’ll find out. She’s going to be around for many more years.
“Her goal has to be to break into the top five. I think she can do it as well. I think No. 1 in the world is probably still a little bit too much, but she’s got the game and she’s got the weapons.”
Wilander still believes Gauff has a way to go to reach the pinnacle of the women’s game, particularly given how dominant Iga Swiatek is with three Grand Slam singles titles already to her name.
“For me, Coco has taken the most natural path towards the top of the women’s game and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player improve with such certain steps,” Wilander said.
“She is so far away from the best players in the world still, but she is making improvements every time I see her.
“She is making a very healthy march towards the top, but she’s very far away from being close to the top in terms of level with Iga Swiatek. So, no, we need to give her another two, three years.”