US Open: 'I feel like I'm at an NBA game' – Gauff revels in support from New York crowd

·3-min read

Fan favourite Coco Gauff said the reception she has received in New York is different to anything she has experienced before after defeating Zhang Shuai 7-5 7-5 on Sunday.

In a closely contested battle, Gauff was just a little too good, winning 52 per cent (91-of-176) of the total points, while creating 11 break point opportunities compared to nine for Zhang.

It continues a terrific run of form for the 18-year-old, who will break into the top 10 of the world rankings for the first time when it updates this coming week.

Speaking to the media after advancing to the quarter-finals, Gauff compared the atmosphere inside Arthur Ashe Stadium – where she has played every match this tournament – to an NBA game.

"It's way different [to a normal tennis crowd]," she said. "On the 6-5 changeover, people were saying 'let's go, Coco' – I was literally trying not to smile.

"I was, like, I've got to stay in the zone. Inside I was trying my hardest not to smile. This is a surreal moment for me – on Arthur Ashe Stadium and people are chanting my game. I feel like I'm at an NBA game.

"That's a special thing about tennis. When you go to a football game or an NBA game, people are chanting the team's name. That's great as a player.

"For you to have the whole crowd chanting your name specifically is something I won't take for granted."

When asked if the incredible attention she has received this week has been a distraction, she said it only helps her in the heat of the contest.

"I think it depends on the player – for me though, I just feed off of it," she said. "I think it helps me more.

"I mean, for some players, they prefer a more chill, relaxed environment. For me, if anyone has seen me play, I like to get pumped up. The New York crowd seems to like it too."

A meeting with the in-form Caroline Garcia is scheduled for the quarter-final, and she said it is no secret that she is one of the hottest players on tour right now.

"I think she's playing the best tennis she's played in a long time," she said. "It's going to be a challenge.

"When you play these players that are hot, I think it's more of a mental challenge. You just gotta accept she's going to hit some great shots, because I know she will.

"I think my mentality has been great. I played I feel like two similar opponents, Maddie Keys, who can hit some unbelievable shots from the wings. Same with Shuai today. She was hitting some great shots.

"I think I was doing a good job of accepting it, clapping my hands, moving on to the next point. I think I'm going to have to do that for the next match."

Gauff and Garcia have played twice before, with the American winning both matches against the Frenchwoman.