Coco Gauff is returning on a pretty high level this year, and it's the result of a lot of practice, which she confirmed recently.
Gauff's skill set is ever-expanded as the American keeps adding elements to her game. Initially an excellent mover and athletic player, she worked to become a decent server with a good backhand and a solid return.
The forehand is hit-and-miss, but it's good enough to win trophies with it, as we saw recently in Auckland. Her return has been pretty great this year, and it's not by chance.
She's been working a lot on it lately after getting inspired by Serena Williams. The return, along with the serve, are some of the most important shots in tennis, and if you have a mean return, well, just look at Novak Djokovic.
"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. I do spend a lot of time on it."
She also practices her serve quite a bit because it can be a good weapon. She's shown in the past that she can put a lot of power into it, which can also be helpful. Per Gauff, about an equal amount of time goes into the serve and return.
"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."