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Media attention is cuckoo for Coco Gauff, but 15-year-old is handling it like an old pro

Coco Gauff returns to Naomi Osaka during their

Coco Gauff returns to Naomi Osaka during their third-round U.S. Open match Sunday night, Aug. 31, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

What’s been happening with Coco Gauff in the tennis Grand Slams this summer has a lot of people wondering what they were like at 15.

“I was a boy,” Roger Federer said. “I was a child. You complain, You shout. You don’t do any media, thankfully.”

On Sunday, Gauff teamed with 17-year-old Caty McNally — plenty of folks wonder what they were like at 17, as well — to advance to the U.S. Open’s third round in the doubles draw. They defeated Nicole Melichar, a 26-year-old Czech-born American, and her veteran partner, 44-year-old Czech Kveta Peschke, 6-3, 7-6 (9).

And then the 15-year-old Gauff did more media. “She’s on TV 24/7,” marveled 20-year-old Australian Alex de Minaur, a straight-sets loser to Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday.

“I didn’t think all these people would be here today,” Gauff said of the 14,000 at Louis Armstrong Stadium. It was the day after she was eliminated in singles by defending champion Naomi Osaka, herself only 21, amid enormous fuss.

“I was having dinner,” said the 38-year-old Federer, 20 times a major singles champion. “I was watching the match from afar in the second set. In a way, tennis won on the night, not just Osaka. Coco, the way she handles herself, it’s incredible at 15. I can’t think of being so well-behaved at 15.

“Just the way she handles pressure, being out on the court,” he said. “We forget it’s not routine to be in front of 10,000, 15,000, 20,000, and facing the pressure.

“Could I have handled it at 15? Maybe. Obviously, my game was not even close [to Gauff’s at her age]. I would have been playing men with beards and all that stuff. My body was not ready for that. But it would have been incredibly exhilarating living the life Coco has now.”

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