Coco Gauff says she drew inspiration from Justin Bieber during her third-round comeback victory at the US Open on Friday, rallying after she saw the singer in the crowd on the big screen.
“I definitely saw who was there,” the 19-year-old said on the ESPN broadcast after the match. “I thought, ‘I cannot lose in front of Justin Bieber.’ I didn’t lose a game after I saw that.”
After dropping the opening set, Gauff regrouped and eventually secured a 3-6 6-3 6-0 win against Belgium’s Elise Mertens to reach the fourth round of the tournament.
Bieber – who was in the stands wearing a polka dot cap backwards, thick pink sunglasses and a leather jacket – was one of several celebrities in attendance, alongside his wife, Hailey, and NBA star Jimmy Butler.
“I got a little tight when I first saw him, then I remembered President (Barack) Obama and Michelle Obama were at my first-round match,” the sixth seed added, according to Reuters.
“I was definitely star-struck with Justin. ‘Never Say Never’ was … one of my favorite songs when I was a kid. Then ‘Baby, Oh, Baby.’ I could go through all his songs. Then Hailey, too, coming. I guess it was a little date night for them, which was really cool.”
Gauff has played in front of several stars at the US Open already with the Obamas joining the likes of tennis great Billie Jean King, fashion designer Anna Wintour and US ski icon Lindsey Vonn to watch her first-round match, in which she also dropped the first set.
But there is one celebrity who has not yet seen Gauff play and who she said would leave her completely starstruck.
“If (Beyoncé) ever came, oh, my goodness, I hope they would not show her on the screen. Maybe at the end,” she said, according to the WTA.
During her comeback victory in the third round, Gauff even said that she was thinking about Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour, as well as Marvel and the Biebers to keep her “relaxed.”
She will next face former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki who is playing in her first grand slam since coming back from retirement and having two children.