Coco Gauff targets 10 Grand Slam titles ahead of Australian Open bid

American teenager is dreaming big ahead of opening major of season in Melbourne

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American teenager Coco Gauff has already set her sights on becoming a 10-time Grand Slam winner as she prepares to battle at the Australian.

Gauff, 19, secured her first major title last September when she defeated Aryna Sabalenka in New York to secure the US Open.

And Gauff started the new campaign in style when she successfully defended her Auckland Classic title after beating Elina Svitolina 6-7, 6-3, 6-3.

It means she heads to Melbourne Park in confident mood and will be one of the favourites ahead of the season's opening Grand Slam – and is dreaming big for what lies ahead in a pro career that has already seen her win seven WTA titles.

“I would say recently I feel like I wanted to get double-digits. That's cool,” said Gauff who is behind only world No 1 Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka in the rankings.

“I don't know if it will happen, but I think that's a high goal. I think setting my goals high pushes me beyond what I think I can do.”

Gauff's only previous major final appearance had seen her crushed by Swiatek in the 2022 French Open, so victory at Flushing Meadows in front of her home fans was all the sweeter.

“During the off-season we did celebrate a little bit just because after the US Open everything was so fast,” added Gauff, who plays Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the first round.

“Now, going into another Slam, it really feels like so long ago. Some players' goal is to win a Grand Slam. Once they reach that, it's kind of what's next.

“For me, I always knew I wanted to win multiple. It was kind of easy to forget about it. Not 'forget'. I think that's the wrong word. Maybe just put it in the past and look forward to the future instead of dwelling on the past.”

Looking to avoid a first-round upset against former Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin will be top seed Swiatek, who is bidding for a first title in Melbourne.

Sabalenka broke her major duck in Australia last year – when she beat Elena Rybakina in the final – and went on to reach at least the semi-finals at each of the Grand Slams and become world No 1.

The Belarusian, who will take on German teenager Ella Seidel in the first night session on Sunday, said: “I had an incredible season last year, improved a lot as a player and as a person.

“I did really a great pre-season. We worked a lot. I felt like we improved a lot. I feel really great and feel like I'm ready to go.”

Tunisian world No 6 Ons Jabeur continues her search for a first major title when she takes on Ukrainian Yulia Starodubtsewa on Monday. The three-time Grand Slam finalist is lined up to take on Sabalenka in the quarter-finals.

Former champions Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki all return to action at Melbourne Park after maternity breaks, resulting in some high-pressure opening rounds.

American Osaka, who has won the Australian Open and US Open titles twice, opens against French No 16 Caroline Garcia and is in the same quarter of the draw as Gauff.

German three-time major winner Kerber will start against Danielle Collins of the US, who beat Swiatek in the semi-finals here in 2022 on her way to the final.

That was three-time French Open winner Swiatek’s best run at the Australian Open so far. Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka and 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko are also seeded players in Swiatek's quarter.

Dane Wozniacki, the 2018 champion, will meet 2023 semi-finalist and 20th-seeded Magda Linette of Poland in the first round.

Updated: January 13, 2024, 11:38 AM