15-year-old American wunderkind Coco Gauff will get a chance at revenge against defending champion Naomi Osaka when the two square off on Friday at the Australian Open.
Osaka is a prohibitive favorite heading into the match, with DraftKings Sportsbook listing the 22-year-old as a -480 favorite over Gauff (+350).
Osaka Dominated US Open Encounter
That line reflects the dominant nature of Osaka’s first win over Gauff. When the two met in the third round of the US Open six months ago, the young Gauff was simply outmatched, with Osaka taking a 6-3, 6-0 win.
It’s hard to imagine that Gauff closed the gap between her and the two-time Grand Slam champion in just a matter of months. But she does believe that she’ll have a different mindset for the rematch against Osaka.
I think I’ll be less nervous this time,” Gauff told reporters. “I think US Open, I was nervous. It was my first time on Ashe. We’re both familiar with each other’s games. She plays really aggressive. This time coming in, I’m going to be more aggressive.”
Gauff has impressed in her first year on tour. She already has a tour title – winning the Linz Open in October – and has now reached at least the third round of her third straight Grand Slam event. While she comes into the Australian Open ranked just 67th in the world, her talent level is far beyond what that number suggests, as few have accomplished as much as she has before their 16th birthday.
Gauff Earns Praise from Tennis Legends
She has already beaten some of the biggest stars in the sport. At both Wimbledon last year and the Australian Open this week, she defeated seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams to open the tournament. In both cases, Gauff was the youngest player in the women’s field, while Williams was the oldest.
Gauff’s play has drawn praise from Venus’ sister Serena Williams, as has her poise.
“I was nowhere near her level at 15 either on the court or off the court, not even close,” Serena Williams told The New York Times. “I know kids are growing up different nowadays, so I’m not sure. But I was nowhere near as, like, smart and eloquent as she is.”
Williams and Gauff could meet in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. First, however, Gauff would have to score a monumental upset by finding a way past Osaka in the third round.
For all of Gauff’s talent, she still struggles with inconsistency. She tends to have a high number of double faults, as she did (nine) in her second-round win over Sorana Cirstea, and her forehand can be shaky at times.
Gauff may play better than she did at the US Open, since there should be no pressure on the youngster and expectations will be low. But it would likely take a significantly off-day from Osaka for the American to have a chance in the match. The likely outcome is Osaka winning in straight sets, though with a more respectable score for Gauff than at the US Open.