Gauff on the alert to shape up her serve in Rome

tennis07 May 2024 14:42| Β© AFP
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Coco Gauff Β© Getty Images

Coco Gauff said on Tuesday she was dedicating training time prior to her second-round start at the WTA Italian Open to cleaning up her serve.

The American third seed was plagued by multiple double-faults in a fourth-round defeat last week to compatriot Madison Keys in Madrid.

And the reigning US Open winner said she plans to fix that delivery problem in Rome before heading to Roland Garros from 26 May.

"I had like 14 double-faults - that's four or five games," she said. "(If I) just fix that detail, it will save me.

"Maybe those matches would turn into winning in straight sets instead of losing in three sets."

She added: "For me it's just serving better than I did last week. Honestly, I feel the other parts of my game are improving in the right direction.

"If I can work through, it will set me up for a very good Roland Garros."

Both Gauff and defending champion Elena Rybakina expressed pleasure at returning to the Foro Italico and preparing for the last big event prior to Paris.

"It's nice to be here. (I've seen) some improvements on-site," the Kazakh said. "I'm looking forward to this event.

"I didn't practice for three, four days (after a Madrid semifinal loss to Aryna Sabalenka). Today I managed to hit a bit.

"That's the way to keep on going because it's not easy with our schedule."

Gauff paid tribute to Rafael Nadal, who is likely playing his final Rome event as he nears retirement sometime this season.

"When I saw the little (goodbye) ceremony (in Madrid for Nadal), I was like 'this is real life, this is for real.'

"I feel a little bit sad; he's definitely one of my favourite players to watch. His mentality, his intensity is something I admire."

"When I practise on the court next to him, I literally zone out of my practice to watch him," the American continued.

"It's something about him and his aura and the intensity. Also just the grace he shows. He's a very nice person.

"His legacy is going to be something that is unmatched when it comes to just the intensity in which he approaches everything.

"That's something that the players will miss and the fans will miss."