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Gauff's game is 'best it's ever been' ahead of U.S. Open

FILE PHOTO: Aug 22, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Cori Gauff hits the ball against Maria Sakkari during the Western & Southern Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sixteen-year-old Coco Gauff said her game is the “best it’s ever been,” as she aims to build on her Grand Slam success as the U.S. Open kicks off on Monday.

Gauff, who stormed onto the scene last year when she beat her idol, Venus Williams, at Wimbledon and went on to reach the fourth round of the tournament, told reporters she’s hungry to get more playing time as she develops her craft.

“The biggest thing is just experience and continuing to get as many matches as possible,” said Gauff, who lost in straight sets in the first round of the Western & Southern Open to Maria Sakkari last week.

“This past week I’ve been practicing really hard to get ready for the Open. The more matches I get under my belt, the better.”

Gauff, who reached the semifinals of the Top Seed Open earlier this month after winning her first WTA career title as the Linz Open last October, quickly became a fan favourite at Flushing Meadows last year, reaching the third round where she lost to the then-reigning champion Naomi Osaka.

She has found her voice as an advocate for racial justice, demanding change earlier this year amid protests and a public reckoning over race in the United States after the death of George Floyd. [nL8N2DH62N]

“We are on a global sport, we can reach people across the world. I think it’s important that people use their platform,” said Gauff. “My take on it is just to continue to use sport to build my voice and make it louder so I can reach more people and create change.”

She faces first-round opponent Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia on Monday at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by David Gregorio

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