Sun | Nov 29, 2020

Coco says goodbye to Wimbledon

Published:Tuesday | July 9, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff returns the ball to Simona Halep in a women’s singles match during day seven of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, yesterday. Halep won 6-3, 6-3.

WIMBLEDON, England (AP):

Out of escapes, out of surprises, Coco Gauff knew her captivating Wimbledon ride at age 15 was nearing its conclusion.

The thousands of spectators at Court No. 1 yesterday realised it, too, so they made sure to show their appreciation for the youngest qualifier at the All England Club in the professional era and youngest Week 2 participant since 1991.

Fans, most of whom probably hadn’t heard of Gauff until last week, rose and roared as she fended off the initial two match points she faced against 2018 French Open champion Simona Halep. It was reminiscent of the way that Gauff began a comeback victory in her previous match. This time, though, Gauff could not come through, beaten by the older, more experienced Halep 6-3, 6-3.

“It was really surprising because you don’t really expect this kind of support when you’re in another country, not your home country. I really did feel like I was probably playing in New York. I’m just really happy that people believe in me,” said Gauff, who beat Venus Williams in the first round for quite a Grand Slam tournament debut.

“I wasn’t feeling my best, I wasn’t playing my best,” Gauff said as she wiped away tears at her news conference, where she noted she wasn’t sure why she needed a visit from a doctor in the second set, “but they were still supporting me, no matter what”.

While Gauff couldn’t get past former No. 1 Halep, another American, 55th-ranked Alison Riske, stopped the 15-match winning streak of the current No. 1, Ash Barty, eliminating her 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Today’s other quarterfinal on the top half of the women’s draw will be No. 19, Johanna Konta of Britain, against Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic. On the bottom half, it’ll be No. 8 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, against Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic, and Halep against Zhang Shuai of China.

The men’s quarterfinals tomorrow are No. 1 Novak Djokovic, vs No. 21, David Goffin; No. 2, Roger Federer vs No. 8 Kei Nishikori; No. 3, Rafael Nadal against 65th-ranked Sam Querrey, and No. 23, Roberto Bautista Agut, against No. 26, Guido Pella.

Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal all won in straight sets and are all in the quarters of a major tournament for the 24th time. One member of the Big Three won the title at 20 of those.

Meanwhile, Halep is the highest-seeded woman remaining, after Barty was joined on the way out on Monday by No. 3, Karolina Pliskova, who twice served for the victory in a 4-6, 7-5, 13-11 loss to Muchova, and No. 6, Petra Kvitova, a two-time champion eliminated by Konta 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

For Gauff, this was her seventh match in short order – three in qualifying, four in the main draw – and while she insisted she wasn’t fatigued, she looked it.

Still, with serves reaching 119 mph, a dynamic backhand that landed near lines and aggressive volleying, Gauff made an impression on anyone who watched her.

Not to mention anyone who played her.

Now, the trick will be to manage those sorts of expectations.

Gauff is, after all, too young to drive a car. She is taking high school courses. Instead of hanging out at a mall or going to see a movie with friends or working as a camp counsellor on Monday, there she was at Wimbledon at 1 p.m., standing in the tunnel that leads to the court with her father, Corey.

He draped his arm around her shoulders then parted ways by giving his daughter a peck on the cheek.

SELECTED RESULTS

Men’s Singles – Fourth Round

- Novak Djokovic (1) def. Ugo Humbert 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.

- Rafael Nadal (3) def. Joao Sousa 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.

- Kei Nishikori (8) def. Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

- Roger Federer (2), Switzerland, def. Matteo Berrettini (17), Italy, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

 

Women’s Singles – Fourth Round

- Alison Riske def. Ashleigh Barty (1) 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

- Serena Williams (11) def. Carla Suarez-Navarro (30) 6-2, 6-2.

- Simona Halep (7) def. Cori Gauff 6-3, 6-3.

- Shuai Zhang, China, def. Dayana Yastremska, Ukraine, 6-4, 1-6, 6-2.