By Lamin Drammeh
Legendary tennis player Rafael Nadal has hailed remarkable Coco Gauff for her outstanding display of talent since she burst onto the global stage as a 15-year-old teenager in 2019.
The 36-year-old Spaniard, current holder of the record 22 – Grand Slam Men’s singles title is of a strong conviction that Coco has what it takes to succeed in her pursuit of multiple Grand Slam titles.
Responding to questions from the press following his second-round win over Ričardas Berankis at Wimbledon on Thursday, Nadal said, “I see greatness in Coco both on and off the court. I like her a lot and the way she talks to the crowd and the press at the end of her matches. She’s fresh and natural in her thoughts.”
Nadal who’s bidding to win his third Wimbledon title at the All England Club described Coco as a true fighter such that even if she’s not playing her best tennis, she keeps running and fighting for every ball until the end.
Nadal said, “I think she’s a fighter. She fights for every ball. Even sometimes when she’s not playing that well, she keeps running for every ball. I think if she’s able to just improve a little bit on her physical performance, we will talk about a great player who will be [a] multiple Grand Slam winner.”
Nadal is not the only tennis legend that recognizes Coco’s incredible talent, her humility, poise, and composure. In 2019, fellow tennis superstar Roger Federer, a veteran of 20 major titles was equally left impressed by the attitude of the Florida native Gauff, admitting that “Coco’s talent is undisputed and the way she handled herself at 15, it’s truly incredible. I can’t even think of being so well-behaved at 15.”
Only for the third time in her young career, Gauff’s made a memorable return to Wimbledon, the same place where she began her incredible journey to the pinnacle of professional tennis three years ago. The young teenage sensation famously beat her childhood idol, Venus Williams, in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, on her way to the round of sixteen – becoming the youngest player ever to make the main draw as a qualifier at the age of 15.
She matched her breakthrough result from her debut season by reaching the fourth round with a straight-set 6-3, 6-3 win against Keja Juvan once again.
This year, she’s already made it through to the third round after eliminating Mihaela Buzărnescu in yet another dominant performance in front of impressive crowds on Centre court. Her second-round victory over the Romanian will see her come face-to-face with Amanda Anisimova in a blockbuster all-American match-up on Saturday.
The 18-year-old Gauff who reached the French Open final last month is considered amongst the favorites to win the Wimbledon title in 2022.
The author, Lamin Drammeh, is a multiple award-winning journalist and former sports editor of The Point Newspaper