Ever since she reached the US Open junior final at the age of 13 in 2017, Cori Gauff has been among the youngsters to watch, achieving many age records and showing her class on the WTA Tour as well. The 15-year-old American from Delray Beach had an incredible 2018 season, winning the first professional matches and lifting both Roland Garros and Orange Bowl to become the best junior in the world at the age of 14!
Ending her junior career, Cori was eager to break into the top-100 on the WTA ranking list (at the age of 15, her coevals are still on the junior Tour) and she is almost there, kicking off the season from barely inside the top-700 and making mind-blowing progress on the biggest tennis stage in London and New York.
Cori is currently ranked 110th after record-breaking runs at Wimbledon and the US Open, becoming one of the youngest players in the fourth round at the All England Club as a qualifier and scoring two wins in front of the home fans in New York as well.
The US Open should have been the end of Cori's memorable season with all the WTA age rules and restrictions but her results have opened her the window to play more events before turning 16 in March 2020, with the young gun deciding to compete in the qualifying rounds in Linz and Luxembourg.
Gauff had trained at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy for a couple of days before taking a trip to Linz where she defeated the 20-year-old Russian Liudmila Samsonova 6-7, 6-2, 6-2 in just over two hours and 20 minutes. The opening set lasted for more than 70 minutes and it was a roller coaster ride all the time, with Gauff squandering the advantage and four set points, falling down 12-10 in the breaker before shifting up into a higher gear to leave the rival behind and advance into the last qualifying round.
Playing better and better as the encounter progressed, Cori lost 13 points behind the initial shot in sets two and three, delivering a couple of breaks in each to seal the deal and move closer to the main draw. The match could have been over much earlier, with Gauff scoring a break in the sixth game of the opener, only to lose the advantage in the very next game and keep Samsonova on the positive side of the scoreboard.
Cori wasted three set points on the return in game ten, suffering a break in the next game and pulling it back instantly to set up a tie break that went down to the wire as well. The American fended off four set points, wasting her fourth overall at 10-9 before the Russian grabbed the next three points and sealed the breaker 12-10.
Leaving the marathon set behind her quickly, Gauff dominated in set number two, serving well and earning breaks in games one and five before clinching it 6-2 with a hold at love in game eight, sending the action into a decider where she had the upper hand.
The American raced into a 4-0 lead in the final set, taking 17 of the first 19 points and moving over the top with another comfortable hold at 5-2, earning a chance to play for the main draw against Tamara Korpatsch on Monday.