via Reuters

When it comes to the breakthrough stars of the season, there is hardly anyone who would not name Coco Gauff on that list. The young American prodigy, whom many regard to as the rightful successor of tennis icon Serena Williams surprised everyone with her heroics at the US Open. However, her journey to stardom hasn’t been the same throughout. The year 2023 has been full of ups and downs for the 19-year-old player.

But how did it all begin? What was the main reason behind Coco Gauff’s success? Turns out, a man who has taken her coaching role did the major turnaround. He is none other than the famous Brad Gilbert, who has had an illustrious history when it comes to changing the course of a player’s career. But, how did he help Gauff turn things around?

How did Coco Gauff perform at the start of the season?


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The tennis world is a rollercoaster of emotions, and few players have exemplified this journey more than Coco Gauff. At the start of the season, Gauff faced a challenging period marked by not-so-good performance and wavering confidence. Her struggles on the court were quite visible, causing concern among fans and pundits alike.

She made an appearance in the fourth round of the Australian Open. This was followed by a quarter-final appearance at the Qatar Open and the Indian Wells Masters. She also managed to make her way into the semi-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championship. However, after that, her form saw a huge dip with the American not being able to make it past the round of 16 in multiple tournaments.

However, she was able to pull up some results when it came to the doubles category where she paired up with compatriot Jessica Pegula. From March to June, she played in 3 major tournaments like Madrid Open, the Italian Open, and the Stuttgart Open. But she did not make it past the round of 16 in any. Then came the French Open, where she saw a little improvement as she managed to make it into the quarter-finals of the tournament.

Another turmoil saw her being eliminated in the first round of the Wimbledon. And then came the moment when she finally decided to bring someone who was experienced enough to take up the role of her coach. That moment saw the introduction of Brad Gilbert. Initially joining for a couple of weeks, the 19-year-old was quite impressed by his tactics and the hunger that he has for success.

And then came the breakthrough moment of her career, which she had been waiting for throughout the year. But how did Brad Gilbert turn things around? What is his history as a coach? Let’s look into it a bit!

Enter Brad Gilbert: the man who has coached some legends of the game

Brad Gilbert is a person who has not only had an illustrious career as a player but as a coach as well. Talking about his on-court heroics, the American player-turned-coach managed to bag 20 ATP titles under his belt. Apart from this, he also managed to achieve the career highest ranking of number 4. It was back on the 1st of January 1990.

After his retirement from the sport as a professional player, he took on the coaching role and went ahead to coach some legends of the game. His notable student turned out to be Andre Agassi. The American legend, under the coaching of Gilbert himself, managed to bag 6 grand slams out of 8 that he earned in his career.

Also read: After Stern Warning to 62YO Coach, American Tennis Star Coco Gauff Dissects ‘Nervous’ Father’s Tough US Open Decision – ‘Don’t Know If..’

Other notable players that he coached were Andy Roddick, Andy Murray, and Japanese sensation Kei Nishikori. Before joining the likes of Coco Gauff, he coached Sam Querrey, whom he helped achieve a career-high ranking of world number 11. His coaching style and unique tactics that he brought into the game helped his players excel in the game and the same was the case with Coco Gauff as well.

The transformation that Coco Gauff witnessed under Brad Gilbert

The entry of Brad Gilbert into Gauff’s coaching team introduced a new chapter in her career. Gilbert’s coaching philosophy which was rooted in strategic gameplay and mental strength, began to show its magic in Gauff’s training. His expertise in analyzing opponents and suggesting tactical approaches according to a player’s strengths breathed fresh life into Gauff’s game.

Under Gilbert’s guidance, Gauff experienced a remarkable turnaround. The shift was evident as Gauff stepped onto the courts with confidence and the hunger to win. The transformation was gradual yet visible and the results spoke for themselves. However, Gilbert was not the typical coach but he was someone who enjoyed the game as much as Coco Gauff did, if not more.

“He’s older but still has the mind of a 20 year old. Maybe even younger, a 10 year old kid sometimes.. He played every match with a jolly rancher in his mouth. He’s been giving me jolly ranchers all the time. I take them but I don’t eat them,” said Gauff in an interview.

The turning point was Gauff’s journey through Washington when she played at the Citi Open. The strategic tweaks suggested by Gilbert bore fruit and she finally managed to land her first major title in the singles category. After her quarter-final performance that came back at the Miami Open, the victory here in Wahington meant that she had announced her arrival in style. Her performance throughout the tournament was quite noteworthy as she did not even lose a set and went ahead to land the title glory.

Following her triumph in Washington, Gauff continued her meteoric rise. Next came the Cincinnati Masters and Coco Gauff came into the tournament as a clear favorite. The 19-year-old had the backing of the crowd and with form going to her side, one thing was certain, she moved forward quickly without any breaks. Her hard work paid off and she went ahead to win the title here in Cincinnati Masters as well.


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However, the pinnacle of Gauff’s resurgence arrived at the US Open. The grand slam stage proved to be the ultimate test of Gauff’s transformation under Gilbert’s guidance. Coming into the tournament with 2 titles in 3 tournaments, she knew she had her form by her side and eventually, it did pay her off. At just 19, she finally managed to lay her hands on her first-ever grand slam success.


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Thus, Coco Gauff’s drastic turnaround from a period of sloppy runs to triumphant success can be attributed significantly to the strategic guidance and mentorship provided by Brad Gilbert. The introduction of the American coach into the coaching staff of Coco Gauff proved to be life-changing for the 19-year-old.

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