Naomi Osaka heaped praise on Cori Gauff following their clash at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, describing the 18-year-old American as a "very much a star." On Thursday, Gauff defeated Osaka 6-4 6-4 to progress into the San Jose quarterfinal.
It was the fourth meeting between the two and the head-to-head between them now stands at 2-2. "She's very much a star. It's very clear. She's very important to the game. After Roland Garros last year when I withdrew, she was the first player to message me and I've never forgotten that.
I have so much love for her and I think she behaves well beyond her age," Osaka told WTA insider.
Osaka on saving seven match points in the second set
"When I was playing I realized I've been letting people call me mentally weak for so long that I forgot who I was.
I lost today but I feel really confident in who I am. I feel like the pressure doesn't beat me. I am the pressure. I'm really happy with that," Osaka explained. The first break points of the match were seen in the fifth game, when Gauff broke Osaka for a 3-2 lead in the first set.
After breaking Osaka, Gauff then routinely held on to her serve the rest of the set to clinch the opener. Osaka served out the opening game of the second set, before Gauff clinched back-to-back breaks and won the next five games to open a 5-1 lead in the set.
Gauff had a chance to win her sixth consecutive game, but missed out on four match points in the seventh game. After blowing three match points, Gauff failed to serve out for the match in the eighth game. Then, Gauff missed out on three more match points on Osaka's serve in the ninth game.
After blowing a total of seven match points, Gauff was able to find her focus and serve out for the match in her second attempt in the 10th game.