Gauff: I’ll proceed to show critics incorrect

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By Richard Pagliaro

Short-term memory loss is critical to continued success on the pro racetrack.

Sometimes a long memory helps too.

More: Gauff stops Sabalenka and plays Barty in the quarterfinals of Rome

After her run into the fourth round of Wimbledon 2019 as a 15-year-old qualification Coco Gauff says her inspired SW19 run – and the sting of the skeptics who dismissed her as overrated and overwhelmed – drives her career to this day.

The 35th-ranked American says she has pledged to silence the skeptics she called a "coincidence" after her performance at Wimbledon in 2019. She came in as SW19 in 313, won three laps in qualifying, annoyed Venus Williams in the opening round and reached the round of 16, in which she fell to the future champion Simona Halep.

"Of course I want to go on and on," said Gauff in Rome today. "I will not be satisfied until I reach my goal.

"Especially at that time [2019 Wimbledon] people said: It's a coincidence, it will never happen again. I think I've proven all of these people wrong. I will continue to prove them wrong."

The 17-year-old Gauff played one of the most dynamic games of her career against Madrid champion Aryna Sabalenka 7: 5, 6: 3 and reached the quarter-finals in Rome for the first time on Thursday.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tudOagCpFmo [/ embed]

It is Gauff's second win in three encounters against Sabalenka, who led the world number 1 Ash Barty in the final of the Mutua Madrid Open on Saturday. The Delray Beach, Florida teenager improved to 2-2 compared to the top 5 opponents.

Gauff's reward for beating fourth-placed Belarusian is a quarter-final showdown against the best-staffed Barty, who will lead the 2021 WTA Tour with a brilliant 27: 4 record and test the American's forehand with her slice backhand.

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Pushing to crack the top 20, Gauff said sharper shot selection, accepting the consequences of decisions she makes in court, and learning from the loss have been keys to her progress.

"I definitely feel safer on the pitch with my shots and decisions," said Gauff. "I think it only comes with experience, to be honest. If you make a bunch of mistakes, you know what to do and what not to do.

"If you are still studying like me, you sometimes have the feeling that you are not sure about your decision. I think now I try to be more certain about my decisions and also to accept the mistakes I make." "

Photo credit: Mark Peterson / Corleve

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