The legend of teen Coco Gauff continues to grow at Wimbledon. The 15-year-old who took Wimbledon by storm week one was faced with the task of beating veteran Polona Hercog. The 28-year-old from Slovenia dominated the the first 70 minutes of their match, mixing power, slice and dropshots with a huge serve that got her up to the finish line 6-3, 5-2. The dream run was all but over…
But Guaff saved a match point on her serve as a backhand hit the chalk. Hercog now just had to serve it out at 5-3 and he got to match point at 40-30, but a double fault and subsequent break changed it all.
Gauff battled to win a tight tiebreaker, got up 4-1 in the third then, after getting broken, broke Hercog for an incredible 6-3, 6-7(7), 7-5 comeback in 2 hours, 47 minutes.
“When [the last shot] was going overhead, I was like, ‘Please go out, please,'” Gauff said. “Then after, when I was jumping, I was like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe it. It’s been one long match, it’s finally over!
“Even when I was down match point, the people in the crowd were behind me every step of the way,” she added. “That’s something I really appreciated during the match.
“I don’t know, it’s just crazy. I remember before I played Venus, as you know, when you walk to leave the practice courts, there are people waiting. One little kid asked me for a picture. Then after the next day, after I played Venus, everybody was screaming my name. It was pretty surreal how life changes in a matter of seconds.”
She’s just 15, had to get a wildcard just to get into qualification and now has captivated the tennis world like no one else since arguably her idols the Williams sisters in the late 90s.
The Delray Beach, Florida resident has had a good draw with an aging Venus Williams, the lowly ranked Magdalena Rybarikova and the choking Hercog, who like Gauff, had never played on Centre Court and never been to a Slam fourth round, but the youngster has found a way to win. Venus didn’t. Rybarikova didn’t and Hercog didn’t.
“When I was walking on the court, I kind of wasn’t nervous, but I was just like, ‘Wow, I’m really on Centre Court, one of the most sacred courts in the world,'” said Gauff. “When I was down 5-2, I was just like, I can fight back. Just need to hold serve, break, then we’ll see what happens from there.”
Up next will be a huge step-up against former No. 1 Simona Halep who blew through Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-1. Azarenka led early 2-0 before she got railroaded.
“I’m very satisfied. I think was my best match this year. I played really well. I felt actually very confident. I’ve been aggressive all the match, even if I was 3-1 down first set,” Halep said.
“I expected a tough one. I expected she’s going to play well and she’s going to hit strong, so I knew that. I was ready for the match. I’m really happy that I could win against a player as Vika because she’s a great one.”
Karolina Pliskova, the favorite from the bottom half, avoided the upset bid by Su-Wei Hsieh to beat the Taiwanese in three sets 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. She’ll now get surprising countrywoman Karolina Muchova who ousted Anett Kontaveit for a second straight Slam.
“I think I did quite good,” Pliskova said. “Of course, the second set was not the best, not as I wanted to have it. I think I was just too good on the serve. I had a lot of aces.
“Pretty much all of the service games also in the third set were quite easy,” she said. “There was not that much trouble. I think that’s what I did better, of course, compared to last matches when I played her. But of course, tricky, especially on grass. She can make you feel ugly, which I felt at some points. Of course, happy that I’m through.”
Elina Svitolina continued her bid for a first Slam semifinal beat Maria Sakkari in a tough 3-setter 6-3, 6-7(1), 6-2. She’ll now face French Open quarterfinalist Petra Martic who overcame a 2-0 third set deficit to deny Danielle Collins 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
Shuai Zhang also upended Caroline Wozniacki torching the Dane from 1-4, 15-40 down in the first to win 6-4, 6-2. Teen Dayana Yastremska is next.
Seven-time champion Serena Williams returns Saturday to face Julia Goerges in a rematch of their 2018 Wimbledon semifinal. Sloane Stephens will try to avenge a French loss to Brit Johanna Konta. World No. 1 Ash Barty, 2-time champ Petra Kvitova and Kiki Bertens are also on court.
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