Navratilova has followed Gauff ever since she broke out in tennis. She was there in Cancun, watching her battle at the WTA Finals, and was pretty impressed with what she saw.
The American didn't qualify for the semi-final, but she looked far more impressive than last year in Fort Worth, where Navratilova also was. It's been a really solid season for the American, who won several trophies, two big ones.
One of those was the US Open, which is the most important one as she finally got her maiden Grand Slam, but also a WTA 1000 tournament in Cincinnati. Therefore, she can now relax and focus on improving as a player.
What that might look like was a question posed to Martina Navratilova in a recent interview with the WTA, and she's mostly looking at that forehand. It's something that kind of works but also could be much better, so she's excited to see what her coaching team comes up with.
The next step for Coco? What happens with the forehand? Will she start hitting more forehands down the line or rolling it crosscourt? Late in the season, I noticed she was hitting those loopy forehands more often.
According to the former American player, her current coach, Brad Gilbert, will probably come up with an interesting solution, which may improve the 2023 US Open champion's weakest shot, and Navratilova is looking forward to that.
I really look forward to what [coach] Brad [Gilbert] tries to do -- if he tries to change the forehand and her extreme western grip. Because when she was trying to hit low balls with her [existing grip] the ball sometimes was bouncing before it got to the net.
According to Navratilova, it's mostly about technical limitations. Gauff has problems with creating unforced errors, but that can be removed if some work is done during the off-season.
I think that’s where the grip is so limiting -- it’s physically impossible to get under the ball when it's that low with that grip. Change it to make it a little bit easier to hit those low balls -- or maybe she just learns to re-grip and use a slightly different stroke. One of those two things has to happen because it’s just too much of a handicap -- she misses too many balls when they’re really low.
Gilbert made some interesting comments a few weeks ago explaining that in his mind, the forehand is fine. Let's see whether he truly believes that or whether they do tinker with it a little bit. If you're going to tinker with it, you have to do it now, not when the season starts.