In a battle between two young superstars, it was Coco Gauff who bested Naomi Osaka on Thursday night to reach the quarterfinals of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic.
The 18-year old pulled off a 6-4 6-4 victory, as she went toe-to-toe with the former World No.1 in a highly anticipated encounter. Gauff looked poised and confident in the opening set, whereas Osaka showed shades of rust. The Japanese superstar was lacking competitive match play, after losing in the first round of this year’s Roland Garros and skipping the entire grass-court season, including Wimbledon.
Regardless, it was Gauff who maintained a good rhythm as she hit five aces and won 13 of 14 points behind her powerful first serve. The Roland Garros runner-up did not face a break point in the opening set, and required only one break of serve to clinch the first set.
With momentum on her side, Gauff quickly obtained another break as she raced to a 3-1 lead in the second set. The World No.11 extended her lead to 5-1, and soon had three match points at 40-0. It was here that Osaka’s championship pedigree kicked in, as the four-time Grand Slam champion fought back to erase four match points and keep her hopes for her alive.
To the shock of the crowd, Osaka broke back, saving seven match points in total as she reduced toe deficit to 4-5. However, Gauff would not be denied, finally sealing the victory on her eighth time of asking, putting the one and a half hour contest to an end.
The sixth seed now faces another dangerous threat in Spaniard Paula Badosa, who battled past American qualifier Elizabeth Mandlik to reach the quarterfinals.