The crowd at the ASB Classic in Auckland had the opportunity to watch one of the greatest players of all time and the young girl who is doing everything to join the legends in the upcoming years in back-to-back encounters on the Stadium on Thursday.
The 23-time Major singles champion Serena Williams defeated the fellow American Christina McHale in two hours while the 15-year-old Cori Gauff lost to Laura Siegemund in an even longer clash, finishing her journey here in Auckland in the second round and missing the opportunity to play against her idol for the first time.
After a convincing victory in the first round, the most promising youngster on the Tour couldn't repeat the same against the experienced German, falling 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 after two hours and 14 minutes. Cori hit two aces and seven double faults, struggling to find the rhythm in her games throughout the encounter and getting broken eight times from 13 chances offered to Siegemund.
The German played better and better as the match progressed, exposing the weakness of her young opponent and losing only two points on serve in the decider to seal the deal and advance into the last eight where she will meet Serena.
Laura broke at 15 in the first game, calling Gauff to the net with a drop shot and closing the game with a lob winner for an early advantage. A teenager pulled the break back in game four when Siegemund sprayed a forehand error but that didn't last for long, suffering another break in game seven following a forehand winner from the German who was back in front.
Returning at 4-5, Gauff broke in the very last moment to level the score and extend the set, delivering another one at 6-5 to secure the opener and gain the momentum ahead of set number two. There, Laura managed to steal the opponent's serve four times, taming Cori's strokes and producing two holds at love in games four and eight for a 6-2 and a much better position ahead of the decider.
With not much left in the tank after that terrible set, Gauff claimed only two points on the return in the final set and failed to repeat those numbers behind the initial shot, giving serve away twice to propel the rival into the last eight.
The American sent a volley long in the third game to fall behind and it was all over when she sprayed a forehand mistake at 3-5, handing another break to the German and heading to Melbourne for the final preparations ahead of her first Australian Open.