In the most anticipated Wednesday's match in Lexington, the youngest player in the draw Cori Gauff defeated the 2nd seed Aryna Sabalenka 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 after two hours and 48 minutes. The 16-year-old is through to her second WTA quarter-final, battling hard against the better-ranked rival and crossing the finish line first in the end.
They hit 24 double faults in the clash with many errors and ups and downs, with 14 breaks from 28 opportunities, seven on each side. The opening set lasted for an hour and we saw six breaks, although it could have been finished much earlier.
Cori got broken in the third game after a terrible volley at the net, pulling it back a few minutes later thanks to a double fault from world no. 11. The youngster claimed four straight points on the return at 3-2 to grab another break following a backhand error from Sabalenka, opening a 5-2 gap with a service winner soon after that.
Aryna held at love in game eight and broke back in the last moment when the American sprayed a forehand error while serving for the set. Gauff was struggling in those moments, suffering another break at 5-5 and erasing the deficit when Aryna netted an easy forehand, introducing a tie break.
With a boost on her side, Cori raced into a 5-0 lead there, winning it 7-4 with a forehand crosscourt winner. The second set was more fluid, and it was Sabalenka who had the advantage, breaking Gauff at love in game four following a backhand error from the youngster.
The 2nd seed went 5-2 in front with a service winner before Cori pulled the break back in game nine when Aryna's volley landed long. Gauff couldn't stay on that pace for long, experienced a break at love to hand the set to her opponent and starting all over in the decider.
They traded early breaks, with two more successful returns in games five and six for a 3-3. The less experienced player made a decisive move at 4-4, breaking Sabalenka with a forehand down the line winner and firing another in game ten to move over the top and reach the quarters.
Cori Gauff is through to the quarter-final in Lexington, beating Aryna Sabalenka.
"I think my mentality pushed me to win. We were both playing good tennis and had ups and downs. At the end of the day, it came down to a couple close points.
It's pretty much impossible to play your best tennis for all three hours of a match. Keeping the level high throughout was pretty tough, but that's just tennis, playing in different conditions, and starting back on tour.
I'm not too upset with how I played; I'm most proud of how I handled myself, staying composed on the pressure points. Everything was an 'A' except for my serving. I definitely served better in my first match than today, but you're going to have good and bad days, and I like to go for my serves, so that's the give and take.
I think my serve today was more mental than technical. Towards the end of the match, I started serving better, and I may have been overthinking. I can always improve, and I believe I can improve, but this was also only the second match.
I thought I would be much more nervous coming into my encounters, but I actually wasn't; I just have this mentality to have fun and enjoy the competition. That's what I've been doing, and I would say it's better than I thought it would be, mainly because last week, my practices weren't so good. This is definitely a significant improvement from then," Cori Gauff said.