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Coco Gauff reveals she is learning from Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams in key area

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Coco Gauff has revealed she spends a lot of time working on her return of serve and that she is taking inspiration from tennis legends Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams.

The US Open champion recalled the emphasis Williams placed on honing her “incredible” return and divulged that she wants to return like Djokovic as the Serbian is “the best returner” in the sport.

Gauff has progressed to the third round of the 2024 Australian Open without dropping a set after wins over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Caroline Dolehide.

The world No 4 dealt impressively with the big serve of world No 43 Dolehide in her 7-6(2), 6-2 second round victory against her fellow American on Wednesday.

The 19-year-old will face another big server, 23-year-old American Alycia Parks, in the third round in Melbourne on Friday. World No 82 Parks hit 23 aces across her first two matches against Daria Snigur and Leylah Fernandez.

Gauff is on a seven-match winning streak in 2024, having started her season by defending her title at the WTA event in Auckland earlier in January.

Speaking in her press conference after beating Dolehide, Gauff was asked about the development of her return and how much time she spends improving it in practice.

“I actually practice a lot on it. One of the reasons why is because when I used to see Serena practice, she would spend like hours or a whole practice almost on her returns, which is why she’s such an incredible returner,” the American explained.

“Playing today with the big server (Dolehide) and then obviously the next round I’m going to play a big server (Parks), I think just putting the return in makes such a big difference, whether it’s a great return or not.

“I do spend a lot of time on it. Serve and returns I think are one of the most important shots in tennis, because it starts the point and it, you know, sets you up.

“For me, I try to spend, like, equal amount on serve and returning. I think my returns are something that’s improved over the years, and hopefully I can keep improving them.

“I’ve watched a lot of Novak because I want to return like him. He’s probably the best returner. Yeah, he definitely is. I want to return like him. If you look at his swings on the returns, it’s not like full cuts. It’s a lot shorter and abbreviated to when he actually hits.

“I realise when you’re serving, someone is serving hard, you can just use their pace against them. I think that’s the model. Sometimes it’s not always easy, but that’s something I feel like is what I work on and practice on a lot.”

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