Cori Gauff described her Wimbledon experience as “crazy” after her fairytale run came to an end at the hands of seventh seed Simona Halep on Monday.
The 15-year-old American has been the breakout star of the Championships, charming and thrilling SW19 with sensational wins over her idol Venus Williams, Magdalena Rybarikova and Polona Hercog.
But Romania’s Halep, a former world No.1 and last year’s French Open champion, proved too strong for Gauff on Court One, winning 6-3 6-3.
“I lost second week of qualifying in Paris and now I made it to the second week [at Wimbledon], and I’m super proud of myself and excited to see what I’ll do at US Open and the next couple of tournaments coming up,” said Gauff.
“I learned a lot. I learned how to play in front a big crowd, I learned what it was like to be under pressure and I’m really thankful for this experience.”
Monday’s result should come as no surprise, as 12 months ago Halep was the world number one while Gauff was losing in the quarterfinals of the juniors tournament.
Yet Gauff, known as ‘Coco’, went toe-to-toe with Halep, again showing no signs of being daunted in such illustrious company.
There were nerves, understandably, and Gauff’s serve came under immediate scrutiny with Halep securing a break in the first game.
Gauff broke straight back, then held, and suddenly Halep had the jitters with a double fault, although she too held serve for 2-2.
Break point down, Gauff casually volleyed a winner with all the poise of the seasoned Grand Slam winner she was facing.
However, Halep’s experience told as she secured another break on her way to wrapping up the first set.
The signs were ominous when Halep went 2-0 up in the second, but yet again Gauff hit back, before asking for a doctor courtside.
If the youngster was feeling unwell she was not showing it, coming from 0-30 to hold for 2-2.
Halep has been there and done it, though, and once again the 27-year-old turned the screw to move 5-2 up.
Although Gauff saved a couple of match points on her serve – one with another nonchalant volley – Halep eventually ensured the American’s Wimbledon adventure came to an end, for this year at least.
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) July 8, 2019
“Twelve years ago I was at juniors. It’s a huge thing that she’s able to play in the fourth round of Wimbledon,” said Halep.
“It’s a great performance. I think if she keeps going, she will be top 10 soon.”
The immediate next step for Gauff is finishing high school and her appearances on the WTA Tour are limited at this stage because of her age.
“I definitely understand why the rules are there; it’s definitely to protect the player,” she said.
“Obviously I will want to play more and I heard the rule is under review, so we’ll see what happens.
“Even if the restrictions weren’t there I don’t feel like I’d play as much as the older players do, just because I’m still trying to develop my game.
“I would obviously play more than the rules state but I think I wouldn’t try to overdo it because I’m still 15 and my game isn’t nearly as good as I want it to be, so I would take more time to train.”
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