It can be a magical time for teen tennis players: Felix Auger-Aliassime, Amanda Anisimova, and Jannik Sinner to name a few. Coco Gauff has been living it up the supreme way when she made her debut at the Australian Open.
She came in and defeated her idol Venus Williams in their second meet at 7-6, 6-3. It was a tiebereak and quite close a score with Williams gathering only 5 points to Gauff's 7. She had defeated Williams twice with an uplifting feeling that her game has arrive to live up to the other more experienced WTA players.
The other counterpuncher she defeated was Naomi Osaka. This was also the second time she and Osaka had played and the last time at the U.S. Open's third round, Osaka came out the winner. The Japanese was at the top of her game and explicitly showed that on court where she'd win her title over Serena Williams the previous year.
Gauff thought that this was her time to shine and she did. But it was a sort of grudge match too where Gauff defeated Osaka in straight sets in Australia. "Like what is my life...this is crazy," Gauff had said with a huge grin.
It was great and she was inspired to go to the fourth round feeling wonderful; yet the results was totally unpredictable. The meet up with Sofia Kenin was the first time and more like a dust up. Kenin is ranked No. 15, while Cori Gauff had most of the publicity is ranked No.
67. They are both feisty players with many putting Gauff as a favorite. Kenin gives her critique on things saying "Of course I understand the interest in Coco. She's 15, and she's playing at this level, which is great."
Gauff was the stronger and won the first set, a tiebreak. It was her cross court game that partly got the better of Kenin. But she would not go down easy and traditionally adjusted her sun visor, kept her game face on and her powerhouse forehands and strategies in play to even up the second set 6-3.
The drama came within that last set when Gauff start to run out of steam and tactics to dismantle Sofia Kenin. She powered her, volleyed her in good style and even had precise overheads to win a few points. But Gauff couldn't find her consistency to put a bunch of points together to win a game.
It was embarrassing for the popular rising teen to struggle without hitting the scoreboard as Kenin kept coming back for more. She had the one up at every game, but also a stronger mental capacity and experience over Gauff.
This might have been the edge that made the match for Kenin. The sun-visored Kenin was on Kathy Rinaldi's U.S. Fed Cup team and her debut brought devastation as she hadn't won a match. The following year she was appointed again and substituted for Madison Keys doing remarkably well to help them win a title.
She's gotten 5 of her own 3 WTA singles and 2 doubles titles to her name. She's defeated Daria Kasatkina, Caroline Garcia and Maria Sakkari, along with Madison Keys, Serena Williams and Ashleigh Barty. Gauff's doubles partner Caty McNally have scored a few WTA doubles titles together.
They have proven to be a tyrant on the court to any opponent team. Yet, Gauff was feeling the heat at the end when Kenin went up three games and she hadn't any. She grew emotional, wiping her eyes between points knowing that the inevitable was growing near.
"I was disappointed that I lost obviously. I think naturally when I lose, I'm just a bit emotional. She definitely put a lot of balls in the court--she's quick," Gauff had explained. Kenin was also emotional wiping her face with a tournament towel.
She was glad to have kept her focus despite all the admiration her opponent was getting. She was extremely happy for making her first Grand Slam singles quarterfinal and by winning the match. She says "..I needed somehow to block everything out and just focus on myself..."
Kenin did and won 6-7, 6-3, 6-0. There were many lessons to be learned. Kenin came through in the crunch, staying mentally focused. Gauff was overjoyed to get to the fourth round of a Slam saying "The thing I'm most proud of myself is how I handled it on the court. Even though I lost a set 6-0, I was still believing I could win it...I just tried my best..."