Misc Tennis

Coco Gauff column: Creating a rivalry like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal would be cool

Coco Gauff column for BBC Sport

Coco Gauff, who shot to fame by reaching the Wimbledon last 16 as a 15-year-old in 2019, is the latest leading WTA Tour player to write a BBC Sport column.

In her latest piece at the Australian Open, the American seventh seed discusses her favourite rivalries and how she thinks the current crop of young WTA stars can create future ones.

Playing against Emma Raducanu was a match-up which I know a lot of people were looking forward to and I hope we delivered the entertainment which everyone wanted.

I don’t know if Emma and I will develop a rivalry or not for years to come – I guess that is what other people might expect – but any time there are two players aged 18 and 20 playing you would imagine they are going to play each other a lot in the future.

In my head I still think a rivalry is where you hate the person and I definitely don’t hate Emma – I really like her!

For sure, I can see from a fan perspective why they might want to see rivalries where the players don’t like each other, but some of the greatest rivalries we have ever seen in tennis have been built on incredible respect and led to lifelong friendships.

One of the most famous was Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert – although that was before I was born – and another example is, of course, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Roger and Rafa was my favourite rivalry. What they had was incredible.

As a fan watching them it was amazing to see how they played on the court like they hated each other, but then to see afterwards they could be friends and did amazing things together.

That moment at the Laver Cup where they touched hands made me emotional too!

I guess a match-up like that is something that I’d love to be part of in the future. I’m not sure it would be quite as great as them, but hopefully we can get something close.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were in tears at the Laver Cup where the Swiss retired from the sport
Federer and Nadal developed one of the sport’s enduring rivalries and also became friends off court, with the Spaniard breaking down in tears at the retired Swiss player’s farewell at last year’s Davis Cup

The older rivalries – like Martina and Chrissie, or John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg – came before my time, before I could watch them live.

Obviously I know about them, and know the history, but when you’re watching footage on YouTube you don’t get the same anticipation as when you’re watching them live.

As well as Roger and Rafa, the other match-up which I really enjoyed watching growing up was Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova – particularly being a Serena fan.

Another one I have seen…

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