Cori Gauff on playing on RLA: Rafael Nadal is out, maybe they need someone else

Cori Gauff admits she is feeling “truly shocked” over playing all of her three Australian Open matches on Rod Laver Arena as she suspects that Rafael Nadal’s early exit has something to do with it.

So far, seventh-seeded Gauff has been the only female player at this year’s Australian Open to play all of her matches on Rod Laver Arena.

“Honestly, truly shocked I’ve been on Laver like all my matches. I don’t know, maybe because Rafa is out they need somebody else. I feel weird saying that. I do thrive on the big courts and I love it. I don’t take it for granted because I don’t know if it will keep happening, but I’m going to enjoy the moment while it lasts,” Gauff said, per the WTA website.

Gauff off to an outstanding start to the season

After winning the ASB Classic in Auckland, Gauff is also off to a strong start to her Australian Open campaign.

After beating Katerina Siniakova and Emma Radicanu, Gauff also needed just two sets to beat Bernarda Pera 6-3 6-2. 

So far, Gauff is 7-0 in 2023.

Jessica Pegula, Gauff’s doubles partner at the Australian Open, thinks Gauff is definitely a strong Australian Open title contender. 

“I think she’s always a contender in a Slam. That’s just my personal opinion. I don’t think any top player wants to see her early in a tournament, or any player in general wants to see her early in a tournament,” Pegula said of Gauff.

Meanwhile, both Gauff and Pegula have been through to the Australian Open round-of-16.

Should Gauff and Pegula keep winning, they could potentially meet in the Australian Open semifinal.

In her next match, Gauff plays Jelena Ostapenko.

On the other side, Pegula is facing Barbora Krejcikova.

Both Gauff and Pegula are the favorites in their matches and it will be interesting to see how they do in the round-of-16.