Melbourne, Australia–There is a new phenom on the rise and her is Coco Gauff. Gauff is starting to pile up an impressive resume attached to her name.
Gauff became the youngest player in the professional era to eliminate the reigning women’s champion at the Australian Open, beating former No. 1 Naomi Osaka 6-3, 6-4 at ease in the third round at Melbourne Park on Friday. It only took 67 minutes to pull off the upset.
Gauff made just 17 unforced errors to 30 for the No. 3 seed Osaka and became the first 15-year old to move into the second week of two Grand Slams since Martina Hingis in 1995 and 1996.
“I learned a lot from that (2019) U.S. Open,” Gauff said. “Not even just playing against Naomi, but the whole tournament.”
Osaka reached deuce on Gauff’s serve in the first game to open the match but could not reach a breakpoint. She won just four more points the rest of the first set on Gauff’s serve.
In the second set, Osaka dropped serve in the opening game but broke serve right back against Gauff. But after Gauff broke Osaka’s serve again to take a 4-3 lead, Gauff did not lose another point on her serve.
“You don’t want to lose to a 15-year-old, you know,” Osaka said. “But I guess that’s, for me, a reality check. It doesn’t really matter the age of the opponent. Of course, she deserves to be here. She played her matches. I just have to work harder.”
She is also the youngest player to beat a top-five opponent in a women’s tour-level match since Jennifer Capriati did it at 15 in 1991.
It was the second Day 5 in Melbourne: In the same quarter of the bracket, 23-time major champion Serena Williams lost to 27th-seeded Wang Qiang 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5 earlier.
Gauff won with some big serving, consistent groundstrokes and by forcing Osaka into making mistakes.
“Her serve is way better,” Osaka said. “I feel like I wasn’t really swinging freely, and she was.”
Gauff’s name is growing quickly in the Tennis world.
Osaka made a rapid ascent to the top of the tennis world herself, claiming the trophies at the U.S. Open in 2018 and Australian Open in 2019 to rise to No. 1 in the WTA rankings. She was only 22.
I’m sure she sees a lot of Gauff in herself.
There were the occasional signs that Gauff’s game is still maturing and there are areas of growth needed. For example, leading by a set and a break, serving at 1-0, 40-15, Gauff double-faulted twice in one game to get broken for the first time. It was a rare lapse, though — and one to be expected at this stage of her career due to her age.
She is taking online classes and said she’s been given permission to turn in homework late, “considering the circumstances.”
Her next opponent will be either No. 14 seed Sofia Kenin or Zhang Shuai, who was scheduled to meet later Friday night.
So late, in fact, that Gauff said she would have to pass on scouting their match because she would “probably be asleep.”