Tue | Feb 25, 2020

15-year-old Gauff upsets Osaka at Australian Open

Published:Friday | January 24, 2020 | 10:29 AM
Coco Gauff of the United States celebrates after defeating Japan's Naomi Osaka in their third-round singles match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, January 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Coco Gauff plays nothing like what her age — still just 15 — or her ranking — 67th and rapidly rising — would suggest.

Everyone keeps finding out that no matter an opponent’s experience or accolades, no matter the stakes or the stage, Gauff plays with determination and delivers the goods.

Gauff became the youngest player in the professional era to eliminate the reigning women’s champion at the Australian Open, beating former No. 1 Naomi Osaka 6-3, 6-4 in the third round at Melbourne Park on Friday.

After the match, during her on-court interview, Gauff turned into a rather typical teen, joking about wanting to take “a selfie for Instagram” with Rod Laver, the 11-time major champion after whom the stadium is named.

“Honestly, like, what is my life? Like, oh, my gosh!” Gauff told the crowd. “Two years ago, I lost first round in juniors and now I’m here. This is crazy.”

She is also the youngest player to beat a top-five opponent in a women’s tour-level match since Jennifer Capriati did it at 15 in 1991.

“You don’t want to lose to a 15-year-old, you know?” Osaka said.

It was the second significant result of Day 5 in Melbourne: In the same quarter of the bracket, 23-time major champion Serena Williams lost to 27th-seeded Wang Qiang 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5 earlier.

Gauff pulled this off with some big serving, consistent groundstrokes and by letting Osaka largely be her own undoing.

Osaka made 30 unforced errors, Gauff merely 17.

This was a rematch from the third round at the US Open last September; Osaka won that one in straight sets, then consoled a crying Gauff afterward and encouraged her to speak to the fans.

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