American stalwart Coco Gauff continued her winning run at the Italian Open 2021. The 17-year-old from Delray Beach has now reached the quarterfinal after upsetting two seeded players on the red dirt in Rome.
At the round of 32, Gauff thrashed No.17 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece in the three sets. Before arriving in the quarterfinal, she ended one of the most formidable opponents, Aryna Sabalenka’s seven-match winning streak.
In an hour and 29-minute encounter, American trounced Belarusian in straight sets(7-5, 6-3) to advance into the fourth quarter-final of this year.
“Slowing Down My Breathing Helps Me A Lot”: Gauff
In the post-match interview, Gauff revealed Demon Slayers’ special breathing techniques, known as breathing styles, are helping her to reduce her nervousness while playing on the court.
Notably, Coco cited anxiety as one of the reasons for her defeat on many occasions. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is a Japanese manga series and one of the best-selling manga series.
“Honestly, today, if I’m being honest, I would reference it again in my match. I just finished watching Demon Slayer. The main character, Tanjiro, has this breathing technique right before he fights. When I get nervous, I notice that slowing down my breathing helps me a lot,” Gauff said in the interview.
World No.35 continued, “Honestly, today I could say at least 5 to 10 times it was in my head. You have to do the total concentration breathing that Tanjiro does. I probably wasn’t doing it like him, but it definitely helped on those match points before both match points. I was okay. I got to do the water breathing like him. It (worked).”
“A Brilliant Player”: Coco Gauff on Facing Ashleigh Barty at Italian Open 2021
Gauff will now face the No.1 seed, Ashleigh Barty, in the quarterfinal in Rome. American will meet Australian for the first time in the WTA Tour.
When asked about her next round opponent Barty, Coco Gauff explained, “She’s a brilliant player. I don’t really expect-I mean. No mistakes are stupid – but no erratic errors, if that makes sense, from her. She’s going to play tricks with the slice. She likes clay.”
However, Ashleigh Barty is known for her slice shots and crafty play in the women’s tennis circuit.