Fresh from her Wimbledon success last month, 15-year-old sensation Cori Gauff recovered from a precarious position to prevail in three sets 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 against fellow teenager Anastasia Potapova.
With the odds firmly stacked against her after struggling to settle in a nervy first set, Coco managed to earn some momentum and forced the Russian into uncomfortable situations of her own.
To Potapova’s credit, she started like a proverbial house on fire: eight winners, 76% first serves won and crucially converted both break points.
Keen to zap the energy from a partisan crowd on Louis Armstrong, the fellow teenager started purposefully with deadly power while looking to quicken points.
Backed by a stinging serve and frustrating playstyle to predict, Gauff quickly found herself 4-1 down in the set.
Although both had 16 unforced errors and four double-faults in the first set alone, Potapova stormed into a commanding set advantage after just 38 minutes. A drastic change was needed.
Excellent shot defence and varying her style to stifle proved pivotal, as the 18-year-old blinked under increasing pressure and a defiant Gauff fed directly off that.
Rhythm was finally present for Coco and had to be, during a telling second set. Despite registering another four double-faults with one less unforced error (10 to AP’s 11) and three fewer winners, she switched up her style after realising she wouldn’t win a hard-hitting slogfest.
Winning 76% of her first serve points – to Potapova’s 20% – was crucial too before the pair took a bathroom break.
Importantly though, Gauff showed her resilience and composure to progress under pressure, holding for a 5-4 lead. She then completed the comeback on the Russian’s serve when Anastasia skewed a forehand long on match point.
For her upcoming clash, she will face the experienced Hungarian 26-year-old Timea Babos on Thursday – having become the youngest woman to win a US Open main draw match since 2014.
Should she come through unscathed in that contest, a potential third-round clash against defending champion Naomi Osaka may await.
Osaka, 22, needed three sets to dispatch of Anna Blinkova earlier in the day – just like Gauff’s Wimbledon conqueror Simona Halep against the feisty Nicole Gibbs.