AFP/ San Francisco
American teenager Coco Gauff built a big lead early then had to dig deep late for a 6-4, 6-4 victory over four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka Thursday at the WTA hardcourt tournament in San Jose, California.
The 18-year-old, who reached her first Grand Slam final at the French Open in June, needed just one break of serve to seize the first set 6-4 in the blockbuster encounter.
With booming serves and matching ground strokes, she then roared to a 5-1 lead in the second set.
But the Japanese superstar, unseeded in her first tournament since an opening-round exit at Roland Garros, didn’t go down without a fight.
She saved match points - all on her own serve, before Gauff was finally able to serve it out.
Down 5-1 and 0-40, Osaka uncorked a string of big serves that kept Gauff at bay. Gauff would get one more chance in that game but hit a backhand service return into the net before Osaka fired her first ace of the match for a game point on the way to a hold of serve.
Osaka recouped a break in the next game and survived triple match point again in the next game to cut the deficit to 5-4.
Gauff finally held her nerve after a double fault to make it 30-30, winning the next two points, including a 104 mph second serve on match point to seal the win.
“Even though I was up 5-1 and 40-0 I knew I didn’t have the match in the bag yet and obviously she proved that,” Gauff said. “Whenever you play Naomi she can play lights-out tennis. I feel like maybe two of the match points I had an actual shot on. Other than that, ace, ace, unreturnable, winner,” Gauff said with a laugh.
“So, I wasn’t, like, too mad,” Gauff said. “I was just like, eventually it will calm down and if it doesn’t calm down then it’s probably not my day.
It was, and sixth-seeded Gauff advanced to a quarter-final clash with second-seed Paula Badosa of Spain.
In other second-round action, unseeded American Shelby Rogers toppled top-seed Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-1, 6-3.
Fourth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka and ninth-seed Veronika Kudermetova made it through to the quarters. Sabalenka beat American Caroline Dolehide 4-7, 6-1, 7-5 and Kudermetova topped American Claire Liu 6-2, 7-5.
Raducanu wins marathon contest in sweltering Washington heat
Emma Raducanu said she was proud to have battled through one of her most physically demanding contests when she defeated Camila Osorio 7-6(5) 7-6(4) in sweltering conditions at the Citi Open in Washington DC.
On a hot and humid afternoon, the US Open winner completed the win in two hours and 50 minutes - the longest straight-sets main-draw match on the WTA Tour this year - just before thunderstorms lashed down to suspend play. Both players required medical timeouts to manage blisters during the error-strewn contest before the world number 10 sealed her quarter-final spot against 60th-ranked Liudmila Samsonova in the WTA 250 event. “For me it was a pretty monumental effort to get through that,” Raducanu said. “There were many moments in both sets where you want to go for the easy option of trying to finish the point early, but, yeah, I’m just really pleased and proud of how I dug in when it really mattered. It was three hours on the court, and I actually warmed up for like an hour this morning. It just gives you a lot of confidence coming through a match like that.”
In the men’s event, American Taylor Fritz was unable to complete his match against Daniel Evans and retired when the 40th-ranked British player was leading 3-6 7-6(6) 4-1. The world number 13 began to struggle in the second set and had a matchpoint during the tiebreak but Evans saved it to level the match and force a deciding set.
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