Osaka halts Coco Gauff’s dream run as first week ends
The 15-year old American sensation, ranked 140, entered the draw as a wild card, after her sterling debut at the Championships, Wimbledon, where she entered the draw from the qualifying event and reached the fourth round.
The third-round match flagged off at midnight Nigeria time. The weakness of a shaky serve that contributed to her loss occurred during Gauff’s first service game in which she committed two of her seven double faults in the match to concede an early break. Although she broke Osaka’s serve to level two–all, a second break gave Osaka the sixth game for a 4-2 lead.
Gauff broke Osaka’s serve to take the seventh game. However, it would turn out to be the American’s last registered game on the scoreboard, as Osaka took the eighth and ninth games to win the set 6/3.
The partisan home crowd encouraged the debutante as she commenced serving in the second set, but she lost the first point, slipped to 15-40 and conceded the break. The second game of the set offered a possibility for resurgence as Osaka faced three break points at 0-40. She canceled the first with a service winner and reached deuce before taking the game on the first advantage.
Gauff won only one point before losing service and the third game. Although stretched to deuce again, Osaka held to lead 4-0. The fifth game was a golden opportunity for a mark by Gauff when she reached 40-30 but was deuced. She lost the first advantage and dropped the game on the first opportunity for her opponent.
Serving for the match, Osaka did not drop a point to reach 40-0, after which a forehand shot by Gauff landed out. The battle was over in 66 minutes.
Osaka evinced a rare show of camaraderie after the hand-shake at the net where both players released involuntary tears. She invited Gauff to join her in the on-court interview of every match-winner.
The victor had words of encouragement for her opponent: “After the match, she showed that she is a true athlete, who, on the court, treats you like your the worst enemy but off-court can be your best friend. It’s amazing.
“I’m going to learn much from this match. She’s been so sweet to me.”
Many top women players did not make it in the first week. Belarus’ Aryana Sabalenka (9) lost to compatriot Victoria Azarenka in the first round. Wimbledon champion and fourth-seeded Simona Halep lost to America’s southpaw Taylor Townsend in the third round.
Former US Open champions, Sloan Stephens (11) lost to Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya in the first round, while Germany’s Angelique Kerber (14) lost to France’s Kristina Mladenovic in the first round.
The top-seeded Osaka will face Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic in the fourth round, as the second week commences.
The other top 10 seeded players remaining are Australia’s Ashleigh Barty (2), Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova (3), Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina (5), America’s Serena Williams (8) and Madison Keys (10).
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