Coco Gauff defeats Emma Raducanu to advance at the Australian Open
Coco Gauff fought through a tough match in the second round Australian Open on Wednesday by beating Emma Raducanu 6-3 7-6.
Gauff, 18, is now undefeated in seven games this year after winning the ASB Classic in Auckland earlier this month.
Against Raducanu, the 2021 US Open champion, she endured arguably her toughest test of the year so far, and the long-awaited encounter certainly lived up to her expectations.
Both players produced quality shots at crucial moments, but it was Gauff, seeded seventh for the tournament, who prevailed throughout.
“Given the circumstances, I imagine we were both nervous,” Gauff said in her court interview. “This was actually a highly anticipated game since the draw came out so I’m glad it was a good game for you.”
The pair traded breaks early in the match, but Gauff grabbed the advantage as she broke for a 4–2 lead and served for the first set.
It looked like the American would cruise through the rest of the match as she took a 3-1 lead in the second set, but Raducanu clawed her way back into the match, breaking Gauff to love at 3-4.
Time and time again, the two players were locked in long, engaging rallies, and Raducanu came close to equalizing with two set points at 5-4.
However, Gauff moved superbly down the field, hauling in shots that seemed well out of her reach. Her serve also proved to be a reliable weapon when she needed it most, as she took the second set to a tiebreaker.
Raducanu, unable to maintain her high level from earlier in the set, fell to trail 2–6 in the tiebreak, and from there, Gauff saw out the game by sending a lob over Raducanu on the third of her four match points.
Gauff started the Australian Open as one of the pre-tournament favorites and will step up her pursuit of a maiden Grand Slam title against China’s Zheng Qinwen or American compatriot Bernarda Pera in the third round.
Raducanu, 20, tried to take some positives from her defeat, especially as the Briton sprained her ankle during her second-round match in Auckland ahead of the first grand slam of the 2023 season.
Raducanu has been struggling with form and injury since winning her first grand slam as an 18-year-old qualifier, dropping to 77th in the world rankings ahead of the Australian Open.
“All the chips were against us and the chances of me playing this tournament were very, very slim,” Raducanu told reporters.
“So I had extremely limited practice time… Having said that, I still think I didn’t necessarily give my best today. Even though I had chances and pushed in the second set, I still felt like I could have done better myself.
But props to her. She’s a great, great opponent and great athlete.”