Cori Gauff withstood an inspired second-set comeback to prevail in three sets 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 over Timea Babos, booking her place in Round Three: where she’ll face defending champion and world number one Naomi Osaka on Saturday.
23-year-old Taylor Townsend provided the shock of the week to knockout Wimbledon champion Simona Halep after a third-set tiebreak on Thursday evening.
Just a few hours later compatriot Cori Gauff, eight years her junior, led comfortably before seeing her promising hold dissipate against a devastating Timea Babos: more than happy to silence the partisan crowd at Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Gauff won six consecutive games to blitz ahead with a 6-2, 1-0 lead early in the second set. An hour later, the scores were tied at one-set each and the match continued to swing back-and-forth during a tense, unpredictable decider.
At one point, both had recorded 28 winners and 32 unforced errors – with Babos’ persistence, despite clearly tiring, key as she continued to linger in drawn-out rallies. Gauff’s excellent shot defence and admirable motor was on full display, as the teenage phenom continued to wow the crowd with excellently-placed winners and beautiful drop shots.
Having recovered from a set down to prevail against Anastasia Potapova on Tuesday, she needed to channel that same resilience with a more experienced figure across the net. Babos’ perfectly-timed aces, her court vision and blistering forehands did more than enough to silence the crowd at certain moments while frustrating Cori too.
How could she have let the advantage slip so easily? Babos had found her striking range but with time ticking over two hours, was getting increasingly sloppy. Overhitting shots, some questionable decision-making as Cori edged closer to the net, she tried to wrongfoot the teenager and quickly met her match.
Two successive errors on the Hungarian’s serve proved the catalyst as Gauff won a fantastic rally to earn a match point. After a nervy battle saw her lose the second set, she forced another error to close out the match after two hours 25 minutes infront of a raucous crowd as the main attraction to complete a memorable day’s tennis.
Post-match, she thanked supporters for their belief and helping get her through two difficult tests infront of thousands at her home Grand Slam.
Although the mention of Osaka awaiting her as the next challenge received boos from the crowd, she laughed it off and revealed her focus is on her doubles match with Caty McNally – who impressed in a three-set defeat to Serena Williams on Wednesday night.
Osaka should prove too much for her, but will also be nervous and it’ll be interesting to see how both handle the showdown on Saturday.