Teenage phenomenon Coco Gauff, who eliminated defending champion Naomi Osaka in the previous round, was stopped in the fourth round of the Australian Open by fellow young American player, 21-year-old Sofia Kenin.
The world No.67 Gauff, who turns 16 in March, lost the opening two games of the match, but then hard-hitting from the baseline and angled winners allowed her to level to 4-4. Four holds of serve followed and Gauff capitalized on her fourth set point in the tiebreak, assisted by Kenin’s double faults.
After losing the first set, the 15th-ranked Kenin immediately took charge by breaking in the initial game and holding onto that lead until the end, as Gauff started piling up unforced errors to finish the match with 48, more than twice as many as Kenin’s 22.
The 6-7(5) 6-3 6-0 victory takes the No.15 seed Kenin into her first Grand Slam quarterfinals. Just how big of a deal this all-American encounter was could be seen in the fact that both players broke out in tears after hugging at the net. Kenin’s match point reaction was to drop her racquet and cup her face, while the disappointed Gauff received a standing ovation as she was leaving the court.
Kenin will next play Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, this fortnight in Melbourne most known for ending the career of former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki a couple of days ago. Jabeur is also through to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, as she defeated seed No.27 Wang Qiang 7-6(4) 6-1 in the fourth round.
Last year’s runner-up and seventh seed Petra Kvitova trailed by a set and a break against seed No.22 Maria Sakkari on Sunday, but managed to push through 6-7(4) 6-3 6-2, in the encounter that featured 12 breaks and a total of 28 break points. The last player to join the quarterfinals on Day 7 was world No.1 Ashleigh Barty, as the crowd favorite survived a horror second set to beat American seed No.18 Alison Riske 6-3 1-6 6-4.
Fourth-round action continues on Monday in Melbourne.