Coco Gauff credits temperament change to Jimmy Butler, Carlos Alcaraz

Playoff Jimmy is a thing. Can playoff Coco become one, too?

Coco Gauff — with superfan Jimmy Butler on hand — rolled into the third round of the U.S. Open on Tuesday with a dominant 6-3, 6-2 rout of Russian Mirra Andreeva at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 19-year-old American credits her red-hot play more to her temperament than her tennis.

The sixth-seeded Gauff has improved her forehand and sliding onto her backhand.

But her recent rise has been sparked by allowing herself to have fun and enjoy the game, with the smile of Carlos Alcaraz or spirit of Novak Djokovic.

“The thing I’ve learned the most is how they’re able to handle the situations when they’re not playing their best tennis,” said Gauff, citing Alcaraz’s positivity in coming back to win his semifinal in the Cincinnati Masters this month despite trailing Hubert Hurkacz. “He was still smiling. I was like, if he can smile, he’s No. 1 in the world and he has all this pressure … then I can do it in situations where [I’m down].

“I can smile too. I learned the most about their joy in matches and how I can transfer that. Because I have a lot of joy in me but I just seem to bottle it up when I play. Now I’m really just having fun and laughing and smiling, and it’s making tennis more enjoyable.”

Coco Gauff, who rolled into the third round of the U.S. Open, credited Carlos Alcaraz and Jimmy Butler for helping her change her temperament on the course.
Coco Gauff, who rolled into the third round of the U.S. Open, credited Carlos Alcaraz and Jimmy Butler for helping her change her temperament on the course.
Andrew Schwartz /

Gauff has said she made a mental reset after her first-round ouster at Wimbledon.

The Floridian is 13-1 since, with titles in Washington and Cincinnati, and an ebullience to her game that comes through to anybody watching.

Heat star Butler, renowned for his playoff mindset, was among them, watching practice and her win Wednesday.

“Him and my mom spoke for a long time when he was here. …He was like, yeah, he can really see the joy in me again in playing and enjoying the competition, and that I should continue to do that,” Gauff said. “I learned a lot watching him, everybody counting him out. … You have people that are talented and don’t have the mentality. He has the talent and the mentality.

“That’s something I learned from [him]. Honestly, that’s part of the reason I’d say that switch I had in the last couple weeks. People think some incredible thing happened, but realistically two weeks between Wimbledon and the next tournament I played, nothing could’ve really changed that much. It was really just the mental thing. That’s what I learned from watching Jimmy compete.”

Gauff came to net 18 times and won 15 points against the 16-year-old Andreeva.

Another American, Danielle Collins, let two match points slip. As a result, No. 32 Elise Martins escaped with a 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-1 win, staving off five match points in her first two rounds to earn a date versus Gauff. … American Ben Shelton advanced to the third round with a 7-6, 1-0 win when Dominic Thiem was forced to retire. Shelton will face Aslan Karatsav. … Fellow American Christopher Eubanks exited after a tough 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7) loss to French qualifier Benjamin Bonzi.

No. 2 Novak Djokicic rolled to a 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 rout of Bernabe Zapata Miralles, while the women’s top seed, Iga Swiatek, eased past Daria Saville 6-3, 6-4.

Court 17 has gotten a reputation for the smell of marijuana from the stands, but Eubanks said he didn’t smell any weed wafting during his loss.

“No, nothing today,” he said. “Yeah, it’s right by the park, so I can see what they’re talking about. But we didn’t get any aroma today.”