MELBOURNE, Australia – Teenage tennis sensation Cori “Coco” Gauff has had quite a ride at the Australian Open, beating Venus Williams in the first round and former No. 1 Naomi Osaka 6-3, 6-4 in the third round Friday. But all great things, sometimes, has to come to an end. The 15-year-old’s “fairytale” run in Melbourne has halted after losing to American player, 21-year-old Sofia Kenin, on Sunday.
Let’s start by recapping her great game against Osaka.
The tennis prodigy pulled off the upset with big serving, consistent groundstrokes and by Osaka’s mistakes.
The defending champion made 30 unforced errors; Gauff only 17.
After the match, during her on-court interview, Gauff joked about wanting to take a selfie with Rod Laver, the 11-time major champion whom the stadium is named after.
The game was a rematch from the third round of the US Open in September; Osaka won that game in straight sets then consoled a crying Gauff afterward and encouraged her to speak to the fans.
“Honestly, like, what is my life? Like, oh, my gosh!” she told the crowd. “Two years ago, I lost the first round in juniors and now I’m here. This is crazy.”
Osaka says it was Gauff’s serve that made the difference.
“Her serve is way better,” she said. “I feel like I wasn’t really swinging freely, and she was.”
Gauff made history with that win, becoming the youngest player to beat a top-five opponent in a women’s tour-level match since American Jennifer Capriati did it at 15 in 1991.
What we particularly love, is both of these young women are part of the #BlackGirlMagic movement. Gauff is African American and Osaka is biracial, with a Black Haitian father and a Japanese mother.
But it was another American, Kenin, who took top honors from Gauff.
Kenin is a fierce counterpuncher. After Gauff won the first set in a tiebreaker, Kenin, the No. 14 seed, upped her game to win, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-0.
Gauff walked off court, again, in tears.
“I think naturally when I lose, I’m just a bit emotional,” she said.
Kenin was also shedding tears (of joy), now advancing to her first Grand Slam singles quarterfinal.
She gave props to Gauff’s athleticism and skills at such a young age, but still remained laser-focused on her task at hand.
“Of course I understand the interest in Coco,” Kenin remarked after the match. “She’s 15, and she’s playing at this level, which is great. But I knew I needed somehow to block everything out and just focus on myself, on my game and what I do best.”