Six months after her shocking upset of Venus Williams in the first round at Wimbledon, 15-year-old Coco Gauff repeated the feat with a 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over the former world No. 1 in the opening round of the Australian Open on Monday in Melbourne.
The youngest player in the field struck 17 winners and only faced two break points (saving one) against the 39-year-old Williams, the oldest in the field.
After taking the opener on her fourth set point, Gauff broke Williams early in the second set and closed out the match in one hour and 40 minutes.
“My mission is to be the greatest,” Gauff said. “That’s my goal, to win as many Grand Slams as possible.
“But for today, my mission was to win. I didn’t want to let the nerves come to me. I know I had a couple set points, and she played well. I knew I had to take it from her. She wasn’t going to give it to me. That was really the mission.”
Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and two-time finalist at the Australian Open, was playing her first match since October.
“She just played really well and really focused,” Williams said. “She clearly wants it, works very hard, is extremely mature for her age. I think the sky’s the limit for her.”
Gauff’s second-round opponent is Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, a 6-2, 7-6 (5) winner against No. 32 seed Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic.
Other first-round winners Monday included defending champion Naomi Osaka of Japan, 23-time major champion Serena Williams, and top-ranked and top-seeded local favorite Ashleigh Barty.
Osaka, the No. 3 seed, saved five of six break points and served seven aces in a 6-2, 6-4 defeat of the Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzkova. The eighth-seeded Williams, a seven-time champion here, opened with a 6-0, 6-3 win against 18-year-old Anastasia Potapova of Russia. Barty overcame a sluggish start for a 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko.
Other seeded players advancing included No. 7 Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, No. 13 Petra Martic of Croatia, No. 14 Sofia Kenin and No. 25 Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia.
In other action, China’s Shuai Zhang eliminated No. 24 seed Sloane Stephens 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 and 2018 Australian Open champ Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, who is retiring after this event, defeated Kristie Ahn 6-1, 6-3.
–Field Level Media