After losing to Naomi Osaka in the third round of last year’s US Open, American phenomenon Coco Gauff set up another meeting with the former world No.1 in the Australian Open last 32.
Defending champion Naomi Osaka defeated Zheng Saisai 6-2 6-4 in the second round. During the match, Osaka released her frustration by throwing her racquet on the floor and kicking it, while in the post-match press conference the Japanese joked:
My racquet just magically flew out of my hand. I couldn’t control it, I think that’s how I dealt with my frustration. It was a bit childish. I just want to play one match without throwing my racquet or kicking it. That’s all I want.
The 15-year-old Gauff, who eliminated seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams in the first round Monday, recovered from a set down and 0-3 in the third set to beat Sorana Cirstea 4-6 6-3 7-5. It was an error-filled match for the American, as she hit a total of nine double faults, started the deciding set by ceding 14 of 16 points because of mistakes, and later on was twice just two points from a loss to the 74th-ranked Romanian.
As a true champion, the world No.67 Gauff manages to overcome her dips and this time she admitted that the supportive crowd helped her come through:
Honestly, I didn’t think I would get so much support in Australia. I was down 3-0 and you really made me believe.
Her determination to win and some wisdom from her parents also helped:
My parents, they always told me I can come back, no matter what the score is.
This was Gauff’s first main-draw match at a major in which she held a better ranking than her opponent!
When Osaka and Gauff faced each other at the 2019 US Open, Osaka was also a defending champion and recorded a comfortable 6-3 6-0 victory.