When you’ve been on tour as long as Rafael Nadal, it’s fair to assume you’d know talent when you see it, and the 22-time Grand Slam champion sees plenty of potential in American teenager Coco Gauff.
“I like her the way that she talks to the crowd, to the press at the end of the matches,” he said after his four-set victory over Ricardas Berankis. “She's fresh. She's natural. Looks very mature in her thoughts.
“Yeah, I think she is a fighter. I like the way that she plays. She fights for every ball. Even sometimes when she's not playing that well, she keeps fighting till the end, running for every ball.”
Nadal and Gauff both made it to the very end of Roland Garros earlier this month, with Nadal extending his Open Era advantage over Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer while Gauff roared into her first major final. Though Gauff's run ended in defeat to world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, Nadal nonetheless predicts big things from the 18-year-old in the future.
“I think, yeah, if she's able just to improve a little bit with this physical performance that she has, probably we'll talk about the player that she will be: multi-Grand Slam winner.”