Coco Gauff has learnt lesson after almost hitting US Open fan with racket

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Coco Gauff may still be a teenager but the American superstar has already packed plenty of life-building experiences into her short but brilliant career. The 19-year-old shot to prominence as a qualifier at Wimbledon in 2019 when she stunned the SW19 crowd by defeating five-times champion Venus Williams in the first round. Gauff’s achievement was even more stunning given that she was only 15 years old at the time.

Four years later, she has reached her first US Open singles semi-final and is now only one match away from a career-defining final appearance at Flushing Meadows. How the New York crowd would love a homegrown winner.

The current World No. 6 already has five tour titles to her name in singles, but the pressure of the Slams is a different story.

Gauff knows this all too well, after reaching the doubles final of the US Open in 2021. Riding the crest of a wave, she headed into the final alongside playing partner Caty McNally optimistic about collecting her first piece of major silverware.

But the experienced pairing of Sam Stosur and Zhang Shuai proved too difficult to out-manoeuvre on the day, leaving Gauff and McNally to suffer the pain of a 3-6, 6-3, 3-6 loss.

The frustration of falling at the final hurdle was too much to take for a hurting 17-year-old American. After sending her return long on match point to concede the contest, furious Gauff smashed her racket into the floor before wildly hurling it into the direction of her chair.

But the action was so aggressive that her racket spun straight past the seat and thudded against the courtside advertisement hoardings, causing spectators to duck for cover. The ugly incident was shared on Twitter straight away. Gauff ended up receiving a £2,400 fine for her behaviour.

It didn’t take long for the teenager to acknowledge her ill-judged reaction. She apologised and gave another racket to a child in the crowd, who had been positioned close to the impact area.

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Speaking on the court after the defeat, a tearful Gauff said: “I lost a Grand Slam final. I didn’t mean for the racket to go as it did, but I did throw it. Probably not the best behaviour on my side.

“I don’t mean to do that in the moment, but I left my emotions take over. I don’t regret it. I only regret the racket went so far and almost hit the kid.”

But fast-forward 24 months and a more mature, level-headed Gauff has a shot at redemption in New York when she faces Karolina Muchova in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Thursday night. The No. 6 seed showed greater composure to come back from a set down against both Laura Siegemund in the first round and more significantly, former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the Round of 16.

The US star will be the slight favourite on home soil and she will need to use all of the experience she has gained from that near-miss two years ago to get the job done this time.

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