Gauff thrills Centre Court, reaches Wimbledon fourth round

Published by Reuters

Cori Gauff celebrates her thrilling third-round win over Polona Hercog on Centre Court at Wimbledon (Getty Images)
Cori Gauff lights up Centre Court, saving match points to stun Polona Hercog and move into the second week at Wimbledon.

Teenaged prodigy Cori Gauff has reached Wimbledon’s fourth round after clawing her way back from a set and 5-2 down to beat Slovenia’s Polona Hercog 3-6 7-6(7) 7-5.

The 15-year-old American, ranked 313th in the world, had earned a match on Centre Court on Friday after capturing the public’s imagination with her giant-killing exploits, including ousting former champion Venus Williams in the first round.

Gauff, who beat former semifinalist Magdalena Rybarikova in the second round, was roared on by the crowd but found it hard at first to cope with 28-year-old Hercog’s heavy groundstrokes and big serve.

She showed remarkable composure, however, to fight back against the 60th-ranked Slovenian, who failed to convert two match points in the second set.

“I always knew I could come back no matter what the score is, I just went for my shots,” Gauff, nicknamed Coco, said after leaving the court to warm applause.

“The crowd was amazing. Even when I was down match point they were still cheering me on.”

Next up for the American is a clash with former world No.1 Simona Halep, who beat Belarusian Victoria Azarenka 6-3 6-1 in 66 minutes on Centre Court.

Afterwards a clearly delighted Gauff switched between reflective adult and excited teenager.

“It’s was pretty surreal how life changes in a matter of seconds,” she said.

“I remember before I played Venus. As you know, when you walk to leave the practice courts, there are people waiting. One little kid asked me for a picture. Then after the next day, after I played Venus, everybody was screaming my name.”

She said it was awe-inspiring to walk out on Centre Court, describing it as “sacred”, but she did not feel nervous.

“Obviously this moment is an incredible moment. I’m still excited I get to keep living it,” she said, adding that defeats she had suffered in the past had helped her to achieve success this week.

“You really learn a lot from your loss. You don’t learn too much when you win a lot,” she said.

The teenager appeared equally excited about a posting about her by Beyonce’s mother, featuring a video of her mother’s celebration in the players’ box going viral.

“Please tell me she’s a meme. I’m so excited to go on Instagram,” she laughed.

“I’m going to retweet it and everything.”

And she said it was “cool” to have won some $A28,500 so far this week so she would probably buy some hoodies.

“I love wearing hoodies. My mom, she banned me from buying hoodies for two months. Every week I was getting new hoodies sent to the house,” she said.

“I can’t buy a car because I can’t drive.”

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