A year ago, Cori Gauff was the 14-year-old girl with a couple of WTA points, ranked just inside the top-700. Twelve months later, the super talented American is a proud owner of the WTA title in both singles and doubles and the established top-100 star, all before turning 16 in March.
Unafraid of the big scene and courts, Cori already proved her brilliance at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2019, making a direct entry to the Australian Open at such a young age and storming into the second round with a 7-6, 6-3 triumph over Venus Williams in an hour and 37 minutes.
Gauff defeated Venus at Wimbledon last year and was the player to beat today as well at Margaret Court Arena, losing serve once and delivering two breaks to seal the deal in straight sets and secure the place in the second round.
Both players had more unforced errors than winners and it was the younger rival who tamed her shots more efficiently despite a late setback in the first set that she controlled from the beginning. Cori broke at 15 in the very first game following a deep return that Venus failed to control, holding at love in game two with a service winner and fending off a break chance with a booming ace in the fourth game to move 3-1 up.
Venus had to dig deep in the seventh game to remain within one break deficit, fending off two set points on serve at 3-5 and breaking back in the very last moment to level the score at 5-5 following a double fault from Cori.
A teenager stayed focused in the tie break, opening a 5-2 lead and closing the set in the 12th point when Venus netted a volley. With the momentum on her side, Gauff stood firm on serve in set number two to mount the pressure on Williams and won five straight points in the second game to grab a break that pushed her closer to the finish line.
Serving for the triumph at 5-3, Cori held at love to seal the deal and make the best possible Australian Open debut despite being the youngest player in the draw.