US Open 2019: Coco Gauff recovers to beat Anastasia Potapova in three-set thriller

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.

Potapova started purposefully with striking dominance against Gauff, but was unable to sustain it throughout

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.

In the deciding set, Gauff initially appeared to seize control when firing a forehand winner for a break and 4-1 lead. Potapova’s persistence proved troublesome, breaking back to tie things back up at 4-all – before a medical timeout for an arm issue.

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.

“No matter where I was on the court, I could always hear somebody supporting me and am really grateful for that. It’s amazing, this is my first match on Louis Armstrong and this crowd is amazing. I hope I’m back on this court with similar fans, thank you guys so much.” – Gauff post-match

What’s next?

Cori doesn’t turn 16 until next March, but will earn $100,000 for reaching the second-round.

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.

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