Coco Gauff stormed back in dramatic fashion to advance to the fourth round of Wimbledon Friday, topping Slovenia’s Polona Hercog 3-6, 7-6 (9-7), 7-5. Gauff trailed 2-5 in the second set before starting her comeback, which ended with a 32-point tiebreak win to take the set.
Coco Gauff on Pace to Become Youngest-Ever Wimbledon Winner
At first, Gauff was a neat story as the youngest-ever player to qualify for Wimbledon. At 15, she was not expected to topple Venus Williams. However, with her opening round win and placement in the Round of 16, Gauff is drawing comparisons to Maria Sharapova and Martina Hingis.
Sharapova was the youngest-ever female Wimbledon champion, taking the title in 2004 at just 17-years and 75-days-old per Metro. Hingis, meanwhile, is the youngest-ever Grand Slam winner, as she was 16-years and 117-days-old when she won the Australian Open in 1997.
Gauff would be the 13th female teenager to win at Wimbledon. Despite the age, she has earned praise for her maturity from USTA’s general manager of player development, Martin Blackman.
“She’s such a gracious young lady, great sportsmanship,” he said to CNN. “We saw a couple of times when Rybarikova hit great shots that Coco kind of clapped with her racket, really classy. But I think they just love seeing a young woman like that who is so gifted, such a great competitor.”
Her success is earning the attention of many of the other players in London. She was recruited by Britain’s Jay Clarke to be his mixed double’s partner. He dumped his former partner Harriet Dart for the 15-year-old phenom.
Clarke said Gauff had contacted him and asked him if they could play together.
“I’ve known Cori for a few years now, we got in contact, and she asked me to play,” Clarke said. “That was tough. I had to let her know because I saw the pairs that had signed in, and I was thinking ‘Am I even going to get in?’
“I think it’s the worst decision I have had to make, especially midtournament. I didn’t sleep too well the night before I played Noah [Rubin in a first-round singles match], but hopefully she understands why I did it. I’m sorry for her it happened.”
He will team up with Gauff to face Robert Lindstedt and Jelena Ostapenko in the mixed doubles first round Friday. For now, though, Gauff’s main goal is to get past Halep, the 2018 French Open champion.