In her first match since the fourth-round encounter with Sofia Kenin in Melbourne in January, the 16-year-old Cori Gauff made a winning start in Lexington. The youngest player in the top-550 and the upcoming star defeated a qualifier Caroline Dolehide 7-5, 7-5 in an hour and 42 minutes, earning four breaks and giving serve away twice.
Cori won 80% of the points behind the first serve, fending off five out of seven break chances and taking 44% of the return points to grab four breaks and seal the deal in straight sets. Thus, Cori joined Serena and Venus Williams in the second round, facing the 2nd seed Aryna Sabalaenka in the battle for the quarters.
Gauff held at love in the first game with a service winner, landing a deep return in game two for an instant break and a 2-0 advantage. The youngster produced another comfortable hold that sent her 3-0 in front, taking 12 of the first 14 points and settling into a great rhythm.
In the first round in Lexington, Cori Gauff defeated Caroline Dolehide 7-5, 7-5.
Another unreturned serve pushed Cori 4-1 up, doing everything right so far and forging a 5-2 gap following a backhand error from Dolehide.
Caroline saved a set point with a forehand drive winner in game eight, earning momentum and breaking back at 15 in the next one to prolong the set, starting to play much better. Losing ground a bit in those moments, Cori stayed focused at 0-30 in game 11, saving a break chance with a perfect drop shot and another one with an ace down the T line.
A teenager eventually brought the game home and fired a backhand crosscourt winner in the next one for a crucial break and a 7-5. Dolehide grabbed an early break in the second set, wasting the opportunity to move 3-0 ahead and put more pressure on Gauff.
Both players served well in the following games, leaving Dolehide serving for the set at 5-4. Gauff broke back at 15 in the last moment, securing the 11th game with an ace and moving over the top with another break at 6-5 that propelled her into the last 16.
"Honestly, I would give my performance an A. It was my first match back since January, and even though I probably didn't play the best tennis as possible, I think that the attitude and effort was an A. I'm just out here having fun.
Obviously, I want to win, but I'm not going to put pressure on myself to win anything. I just try my best out there on the court every day. I'm just going to approach the next round the same as I do every match, wanting to win and hopefully having a good mentality on the court," Cori Gauff said.