TENNIS PROTEGE Cori “Coco” Gauff battled past Sorana Cirstea in a three-set thriller to set up a rematch against Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open 3rd round.
The 15-year-old American, who saw off compatriot Venus Williams in the opening round at Melbourne Park, had to dig deep to see off Cirstea 4-6 6-3 7-5 in just over two hours on Wednesday (January 22).
But Gauff, having been destroyed by former world no.1 Osaka at last year’s US Open, has more experience on the WTA Tour now. Although her fearless and naïve approach to points doesn’t always work wonders and may prove her downfall in her next match.
Japan’s Osaka, the defending champion, has sailed into Friday’s showdown, with Gauff – as the youngest player in the draw – seemingly overeliant on her speed around the court and natural in-built confidence.
Yet it was her amazing confidence that helped her bounce back from trailing 3-0 in the final set, to secure the most mouthwatering match so far in the ladies draw.
Gauff said courtside about her encounter with Osaka, following her hard-fought success over Cirstea: “I know what to expect in the next round. She’s a great competitor. I know it’s going to be a good one.”