The dream run of 15 year-old Cori Gauff looks to continue on Monday but she is going to have it incredibly tough against a former No.1 in Simona Halep. Gauff has been a revelation this fortnight and may well have established herself as a fan favourite already, despite it being her first time at the women’s event.
Gauff did not quite have the confidence and swagger of her opening two wins but showed incredible heart to see off Polona Hercog in three sets 3-6 7-6 7-5. It did require a spectacular collapse and some very passive tennis from the Slovenian but Gauff has to be applauded for the manner of her comeback, having been down a set and 4-1 and also saving match points in two separate games. She had been troubled by the slicing of Hercog early on but managed to figure out a way to combat it just in time.
Halep was dominant against Victoria Azarenka, overwhelming the Belarussian in straight seats. From 1-3 down, she dropped just one more game on the way to victory. Any hopes that Azarenka could establish herself as one of the best again fall with each loss like this but Halep was incredibly impressive in nullifying the threat of Azarenka. “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.”
Patrick Mouratoglou, who has been working with Gauff at his academy, isn’t too shocked by the rise of Gauff although perhaps at how early it has came. “I’m not surprised at the level of tennis Coco is playing. Speaking more generally, I’m not that surprised by how she is playing because I’ve known her qualities since she was 10 years old.” he said. “She had to dig really deep. She’s playing a decent Top-20 level, and she’s a great competitor so when it comes to the big points, in general she’s there. The scenario of that match, though, with the match points, that was totally unbelievable.”
Halep will be the heavy favourite to win this one and is unlikely to play the passive style that Hercog did to allow Gauff back into the match. If the Romanian lets up, she is going to be in one huge fight with an opponent who is incredibly confident right now.
Prediction – Simona Halep in straight sets