Veteran tennis coach Brad Gilbert has come under fire at the US Open after dramatic scenes during Coco Gauff's fourth round victory against Danish comeback queen, Caroline Wozniacki. The sixth seed was taken to three sets for the third time in four rounds this week before edging out the former World No.1 - playing just her third tournament since returning after the birth of her second child - 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
The match had its fair share of drama, with Gilbert often finding himself at the centre of it. The experienced mentor has joined Gauff's coaching team to incredible effect - with the American having won 15 of her past 16 matches. During that run the 19-year-old has secured titles at the DC Open and in Cincinnati.
'SHAME ON YOU': Tennis world up in arms over 'horrible' drama
However, the American seemed less than impressed with Gilbert's constant coaching during the match against Wozniacki, with the American at one point telling him to be quiet. TV microphones have picked up Gilbert repeatedly offering his thoughts to Gauff during previous matches at the tournament and he was in full voice again throughout much of the fourth round showdown.
Things came to a head late in the second set when Gauff turned towards Gilbert in her coaching box and could be heard yelling: "Please stop". The very next game Wozniacki forced the match into a deciding third set at which point Gauff told Gilbert: “Stop talking.”
Coco Gauff's entourage accused of employing 'dirty tricks'
It came as Wozniacki won four four consecutive games - including a break at the start of the third stanza - before Gauff stormed home by winning six consecutive games to seal victory. As well as earning the ire of his player, Gilbert also copped the wrath of fans, some of whom accused him of using "dirty tricks" and "unsportsmanlike" acts by calling out from the box to potentially distract Wozniacki.
Coco Gauff's coach is shouting things when Coco is on the other side - things which only Caroline can hear, thus trying to distract her. Are the locals and Coco fandom who were 'apalled' by Siegemund wasting a bit of time have no problem with this nasty unsportsmanlike conduct?
— s (@swiatekburner) September 3, 2023
"Brad is saying things he wants Caro to hear, as there is no way Coco can hear him on the other side of the court"
American commentator admits Brad Gilbert is doing dirty tricks. How is coach trying to distract the other player allowed?
— Jasmine ✨ 16th 🏆 in NYC 🗽✨ 🇺🇦 (@igababygoat) September 3, 2023
It was horrible and disrespectful.
— Anna-Alicia 💅🏻 (@annaaliciajelic) September 3, 2023
Is Coco Gauff ignoring coach Brad Gilbert right now?
— Ken Fang -- Very Asian With a Blue Checkmark (@fangsbites) September 3, 2023
Coco Gauff started playing better tennis the minute she started ignoring her coach 😂 #USOpen
— John (@corkspur) September 3, 2023
Of course Mary Jo Fernandez asks Coco Gauff about the "dynamics" in her box.
"Sometimes I tell [my coaches] to chill a little bit because I like to figure things out for myself... Sometimes it's a stress reaction."
[cut to Brad Gilbert not smiling] pic.twitter.com/j7LLwCzhjn
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) September 3, 2023
I truly hope Gauff dumps Gilbert eventually just so that I can be ok with her success again. He is, bar none, the most irritating figure in tennis. Having to watch him just as a commentator is already too much.
— alex (@Ajdesasha) September 3, 2023
Coco Gauff hoses down coaching drama
Following her victory, World No.6 Gauff said her reaction towards Gilbert and her entourage was born out of "stress" and frustration and brushed aside any thoughts of lingering resentment. “Sometimes I tell them to chill a little bit,” the 19-year-old said, “because I like to think and figure out matches my own way.
“I was getting frustrated. It wasn’t really directed at him (Gilbert). It was just that I needed to reset. In that moment, I just didn’t want to hear anything. I just wanted to think about what I was doing.”
Gauff could now meet defending champion Iga Swiatek in the last-eight, provided the World No.1 can get past 20th seed Jeļena Ostapenko in her fourth round encounter. The 19-year-old's brutal statement in the third set - where she won six consecutive games to end Wozniacki's fairytale run - came after she upped the ante in attack with 11 winners, compared to just two for the Dane.
“She’s always been a great athlete. She’s always had the backhand, the serve, the fighting spirit,” Wozniacki said about Gauff. “I feel like right now, it’s all kind of coming together for her.”
Gauff was also full of praise for her opponent, whose first grand slam tournament in the best part of three years must surely be deemed a rousing success.
"Caroline is back, it's like she's never left," Gauff said of the 33-year-old Wozniacki. "The level she played today was amazing, and she's been an inspiration for me growing up."
Wozniacki, who made her tour debut when Gauff was only one, retired after the 2020 Australian Open to start a family, giving birth to two children. She was trying to emulate Kim Clijsters, who beat the Dane in the 2009 US Open final on her own return to Grand Slam tennis from maternity leave.
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.