Rome: Coco Gauff completes big comeback win, Naomi Osaka ousted in R16

Gauff and Iga Swiatek progress into the Rome quarterfinal but Osaka's run ends.

by Dzevad Mesic
Rome: Coco Gauff completes big comeback win, Naomi Osaka ousted in R16
© Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Coco Gauff and Iga Swiatek have been through to the Rome Open quarterfinal, while Naomi Osaka's promising run ended in the round-of-16 at Foro Italico.

On Monday, the first in action was four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka, who was playing against a top-10 opponent for the first time since launching her comeback. Unfortunately for Osaka - who previously won three matches in straight sets in Rome - she had no answer for Zheng Qinwen as the seventh-ranked Chinese ousted her with a 6-2 6-4 scoreline.

Gauff, seeded at No. 3, also didn't start her Rome match well against former world No. 2 Paula Badosa. But down a set, 2023 US Open champion Gauff managed to find her way back into the match and ultimately seal a 5-7 6-4 6-1 win over Badosa.

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff © Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

In a match between two multiple Grand Slam champions, Swiatek defeated Angelique Kerber 7-5 6-3. Although Swiatek ended up winning in straight sets, Kerber made the current world No. 1 work hard before sealing a win. 

In the Rome quarterfinal, Gauff will face Zheng while Swiatek plays against Madison Keys. 

How Osaka lost to Zheng?

After getting broken in the very first game of the match, Osaka responded instantly and broke back Zheng in the following game. But recovering from an early break didn't lead to Osaka starting to play better as Zheng still easily won the first set after claiming back-to-back breaks in the fifth and seventh games.

When the second set started, Zheng prolonged her run to six consecutive games won as she also opened a 2-0 second-set lead. Up by a set and a break, Zheng then just routinely held on to her serve for the remainder of the match to complete a two-set win.

Zheng Qinwen
Zheng Qinwen © Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

How Gauff came back to beat Badosa?

Through the opening six games, not a single break point was seen but then Badosa finally earned the first break points in the seventh game and realized for a 4-3 lead. With a chance to serve out for the first set at 5-4, Badosa failed to do so but kept her focus and broke Gauff again for a 6-5 lead before closing out the first set in her second attempt in the following game.

Down by a set, Gauff was twice up by a break in the second set but Badosa twice recovered. Then with Gauff leading 5-4 and Badosa serving to stay in the second set, the American clinched a break in the critical moment to win the set and force a decider.

Just after winning the second set, Gauff lost her serve in the opening serve of the third set. But that turned out to be the first and lone game Gauff would lose in the third set as the American went on to claim three consecutive breaks and win six games in a row en route to completing a comeback win in style.

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff © Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Kerber competed extremely well but Swiatek was just too strong 

Right from the start of the match, it was clear that Kerber would not be an easy opponent for Swiatek but the Pole managed to earn the first break points and the break in the eighth game for a 5-3 lead. But then, Swiatek failed to serve out for the first set in the ninth game and also stunningly missed out on five set points on Kerber's serve in the 10th game. 

However, Swiatek was able to keep her focus - serve out the 11th game for a 6-5 lead - earn three more set points on Kerber's serve in the 12th game and finally win the first set after realizing her eighth set point.

After losing a very tight first set, Kerber bounced back at the start of the second set with an early break and a 2-0 lead. But Swiatek responded instantly as she broke Kerber in the fourth and eighth games to overturn the deficit and complete a two-set win.

Iga Swiatek and Angelique Kerber
Iga Swiatek and Angelique Kerber © Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

When Swiatek meets Keys in her next Rome match, she will be playing against the American for the fifth time. Heading into the match, Swiatek owns a 3-1 head-to-head record and a 2-0 head-to-head versus the American on clay. 

Interestingly, the first meeting between Swiatek and Keys came three years ago in Rome when the Pole claimed a 7-5 6-1 win in the second round en route to winning her first title at Foro Italico. In 2022, Swiatek also beat Keys in Indian Wells before the American earned her first win over the Pole in Cincinnati. 

10 days ago, Swiatek and Keys played for the fourth time when the Pole beat the American 6-1 6-3 in the Madrid semifinal.

When it comes to the Gauff and Zheng quarterfinal, their Rome meeting will also be the first one between them.

Coco Gauff Naomi Osaka Iga Swiatek