Gauff proud after teary Melbourne exit

MELBOURNE (AFP) – Coco Gauff warned she is not even close to achieving her full potential and targetted the Tokyo Olympics after the 15-year-old exited the Australian Open in tears yesterday.

Gauff’s fellow American Sofia Kenin recovered from a set down to win 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-0 and reach the last eight in Melbourne.

The 14th seed plays Ons Jabeur after the unseeded Tunisian defeated China’s Wang Qiang to become the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final.

Gauff, the youngest player in the draw, is one of the stories of the Australian Open, beating Venus Williams in the first round and then reigning champion Naomi Osaka in round three.

Gauff, who turns 16 in March and now has to get back to school homework, blamed her loss on too many errors and said that nerves had nothing to do with it.

Coco Gauff makes a forehand return to Sofia Kenin during their fourth round singles match at the Australian Open. PHOTO: AP

But she also admitted that the last few weeks had almost been too good to be true.

“I couldn’t really write this, I don’t think anybody could really write how this past couple months have gone,” said the teenager.

“I still have so much I feel like I can get better on. Even my parents, my team, they all believe I can get better.

“I don’t even think this is close to a peak for me, even though I’m doing well right now.”

The French Open is the next Slam in her sights as she bids to become the youngest player to win a Grand Slam in the Open Era, which began in 1968.

The current record-holder is Martina Hingis, who triumphed at the 1997 Australian Open at 16 years and nearly four months old.

Now ranked 67th in the world, Gauff said it would be “pretty cool” to reach the Olympics this summer.

“That’s definitely the goal. Hopefully I can get my ranking up and qualify,” she said.

“It will be difficult, but I’m going to try as hard as possible.”