Melbourne: Fifteen-year-old prodigy Coco Gauff recovered from a set down to reach the Australian Open third round on Wednesday and a mouthwatering meeting with reigning champion Naomi Osaka.
The American teenager, playing just her third Grand Slam and her first at Melbourne, celebrated wildly after defeating Romania's Sorana Cirstea 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Japan's Osaka, a relative veteran at age 22, defeated the fast-rising Gauff in straight sets in the third round of last year's US Open."It was emotional," the young American, ranked 67 in the world, told Melbourne Arena after her latest scalp.
Challenge Accepted 💯@cocogauff does it again ousting Cirstea 4-6 6-3 7-5 to set up a blockbuster third round clash with defending champion Naomi Osaka.#AO2020 | #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/xHrsOMng2N— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 22, 2020
"I never thought I would have so many people supporting me."
"She's a great competitor so I think it's going to be a good match," she said of her looming showdown with two-time Grand Slam winner Osaka.
Gauff stunned seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams in the first round, repeating her victory over the veteran American on her Grand Slam debut last year at Wimbledon.The nerveless Gauff was two points from defeat in the deciding set against 74th-ranked Cirstea.
But the fearless teenager hung in and grabbed the crucial break in the 11th game, pumping her fists after burying a ferocious overhead smash.
"Just my will to win and especially the crowd," she said, asked how she had survived against the more experienced Cirstea, 29.
"My parents always told me you can always come back -- no matter what the score is."