Teenage sensation Coco Gauff looks to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final when she squares off against countrywoman Sofia Kenin at the Australian Open on Sunday.
Coco Gauff ?? vs Sofia Kenin ?? Match Info
Date: Sunday January 26
Tournament: Australian Open R16
Court: Melbourne Arena
Time: 2.30pm local time (3.30am GMT)
Coco Gauff vs Sofia Kenin Head-to-Head
Coco Gauff vs Sofia Kenin Match Preview
An all-American showdown between two of the brightest young prospects in tennis awaits in the fourth round of the Australian Open – who emerges triumphant to make a first Grand Slam quarter-final?
For 15-year-old Gauff, it’s been a continuation of what has been an extraordinary rise over the last six months. Ranked outside the top 300 before qualifying and reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon, Gauff is now a chance of breaking into the world’s top 50 after the Australian Open – something she will definitely do if she does indeed beat Kenin to make the quarter-finals.
Ending 2019 by winning her maiden WTA title in Linz as a lucky loser, conquering top 10 star Kiki Bertens along the way, Gauff has already proven she’s no flash in the pan – and she also showcased she’s a quick learner after toppling defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka in straight sets on Friday night, just a few months after she was completely overawed and blown off the court in the third round of the U.S. Open.
It’s true that Osaka produced one of the worst performances of her career, but Gauff’s composure and knowingness of a situation she’s hardly been in before was a sight to behold, particularly for someone of her age. The 15-year-old took advantage of 30 unforced errors from Osaka’s racquet to register a 6-3 6-4 victory on Rod Laver Arena for her biggest career victory to date.
“I learned a lot from that US Open,” revealed Gauff afterwards. “Not even just playing against Naomi, but the whole tournament. I think I was on edge, and I had the three-setters in the first two rounds, and I… was just dealing with all of the media.
“I feel like now I’m more playing, just having fun. And, I mean, winning is a cherry on top, but I’m honestly having a lot of fun on the court, even in those tight situations.”
Gauff is now the first player to make the second week of two Grand Slams as a 15-year-old since Martina Hingis in 1995-96, further illustrating just how much of a special talent the American is. But, with all the euphoria rightfully surrounding Gauff, are we forgetting about her fourth round opponent in Melbourne?
It’s crazy to think that Kenin is six years older than Gauff, but still a relative newcomer to the tour at 21 years of age – and that she too is competing in the fourth round of a slam for just the second time. After breezing through her first two rounds against Martina Trevisan (6-2 6-4) and Ann Li (6-1 6-3), Kenin was made to work extremely hard to survive her third round clash with former quarter-finalist Zhang Shuai, saving two set points in the opener before recovering from a break down on two occasions in the second to dig out a 7-5 7-6(7) victory in a match that lasted until after midnight local time.
“It’s late, but I’m happy to have gone through and I’m really excited,” Kenin said.
“I was just fighting. There were a lot of close shots, so I needed to step up my game and I’m so proud of myself.”
After breaking into the top 100 for the first time in 2018, Kenin enjoyed a rapid rise in 2019, winning three WTA titles in Hobart, Mallorca and Guangzhou, beating Serena Williams to make the French Open fourth round and making back-to-back semi-finals in Toronto and Cincinnati, where she beat No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and No. 1 Naomi Osaka to become the first player since 2001 to defeat reigning World No. 1s in consecutive weeks. Kenin would qualify for the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai to finish the season at No. 14 – and if she keeps progressing at the rate she is, the American will be knocking on the door of the top 10 in no time.
Coco Gauff vs Sofia Kenin Prediction
There’s a lot of justified hype surrounding Gauff right now, but I think this will be a very tough match-up for her. Kenin gets everything back and will make Gauff play a lot more balls than Osaka did, who completely imploded with countless poor errors. Gauff has the firepower and stronger serve, but Kenin is relentless from the baseline and I think her dogged consistency will see her come out on top to make a first Grand Slam quarter-final.