Aryna Sabalenka thanks Billie Jean King after Australian Open win
It's Sabalenka's first title.
Coco Gauff advanced to the third round at the Australian Open after besting Emma Raducanu, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), in a blockbuster matchup.
The victory was the 100th WTA win of Gauff’s career. The 18-year-old American is the youngest woman to reach that milestone since 2009, when an 18-year-old Carolina Wozniacki did so.
Gauff took a 4-2 lead in the second set before Raducanu, the 2021 US Open champion, battled back to grab a 5-4 advantage. But Gauff, who made her first Grand Slam final at the French Open last year, held firm.
Coco Gauff defeated Emma Raducanu in straight sets to advance to the third round of the Australian Open 👏 pic.twitter.com/UcOyfwQUdi— ESPN (@espn) January 18, 2023
“I stayed calm when I needed to and made the serve when I needed to. Held when I needed to. I think that definitely comes with maturity,” Gauff said. “I feel like in the past, I would have freaked out in that moment.
“I just told myself to hang in there. Emma was playing really good tennis towards the end of the match.”
Gauff reached No. 7 spot in the world rankings to end 2022, a career high. Raducanu had jumped to a career-high No. 10 last summer, but after struggling with injury she has dropped to No. 77.
“Honestly, the whole match was great,” Gauff said. “In the beginning I think we both started off rocky, but I think the match was good quality for the most part. Considering the circumstances—I imagine both of us were nervous, as this was a long-anticipated match-up basically since the draw came out. So I’m glad that it was a good match for you guys.”
For the two teenagers, the match came with the weight of expectations. With the retirement of some of the world’s best in 2022, including Serena Williams and Ash Barty, the next generation of tennis is beginning to take hold.
“Fans are eager to see a new face of the game,” Gauff said. “I feel like we handled the pressure pretty well, and kudos to Emma—I know she had a tough week in Auckland, so really good for her to be able to play this level after such a scary moment.”
Raducanu’s status for the Australian Open had been in doubt. The 20-year-old British star had retired from a second-round match in Auckland two weeks ago with an injury, and she was on crutches 10 days before the year’s first major began. But she battled back Tuesday despite going down early.
“We’re going to be playing each other many times in the future, as we’re both young and coming,” Raducanu said. “You know, like, we’re going to be the next generation.”
It's Sabalenka's first title.
Instead, she'll set her sights on the doubles bracket.
Pegula is the last American woman standing.
Both lost in straight sets.
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