Coco’s Reign: Up-and-Comer Upsets Defending Australian Open Champ Naomi Osaka; Serena Williams Falls in Opening Week

Illustration for article titled Coco’s Reign: Up-and-Comer Upsets Defending Australian Open Champ Naomi Osaka; Serena Williams Falls in Opening Week
Photo: Hannah Peters (Getty Images)

What Coco Gauff has done in the last year is nothing short of phenomenal, and it appears she knows it.

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“Honestly, like, what is my life?” said the 15-year-old tennis sensation, moments after handily defeating reigning Australian Open champ Naomi Osaka in straight sets (6-3, 6-4).

“Two years ago, I lost first round in juniors. And now I’m here,” said Gauff at the post-match interview in Melbourne on Friday. “This is crazy.”

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Gauff’s latest victory caps off a tremendous week where she deposed the biggest names in women’s tennis, defeating her idol Venus Williams in the first round of the Australian Open (a win that harked back to her first star-making turn, when she upset Williams at Wimbledon last year), before getting the better of Osaka in the third round (a reversal of the pair’s memorable first meeting at the U.S. Open a mere five months ago).

The match between Gauff and Osaka was easily the most anticipated of the tournament so far. As the New York Times notes, experts and fans alike expected a longer, closer match: a chance to see how much Gauff’s game—and her confidence—had grown in recent months, and to see how Osaka, one of the Top 5 players in the world, would handle the upstart. But Gauff was done with Osaka in just over an hour.

To be fair, Osaka didn’t do herself any favors during the match, committing 30 unforced errors. It’s possible that once Gauff got ahead, Osaka got rattled and didn’t quite know how to adjust.

Osaka, known for keeping it real, clearly felt embarrassed by the loss.

“You don’t want to lose to a 15-year-old, you know. But I guess that’s for me, like, a reality check,” she said after the match, according to Yahoo Sports. “It doesn’t really matter the age of the opponent. Of course, she deserves to be here. She played her matches. I just have to work harder.

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“I love her, but I don’t like this feeling of losing to her,” she said.

Osaka’s loss wasn’t the only upset of the third round—Serena Williams also lost, to No. 27 seed, Wang Qiang. This was another U.S. Open rematch turned upside down: when Williams faced Wang five months ago, she plowed through her opponent, defeating Wang in less than 45 minutes.

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This time, Williams committed 56 errors in a match that lasted 2 hours and 41 minutes. The 38-year-old GOAT has won the Australian Open a whopping seven times, but this defeat marks her earliest exit from the tournament since 2006, reports the Washington Post.

“I’m way too old to play like this at this stage of my career,” Williams said after the shocking loss, according to the Associated Press. “Definitely going to be training tomorrow; that’s first and foremost—to make sure I don’t do this again.”

Staff writer, The Root.

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DISCUSSION

mikepencenonethericher
MikePenceNoneTheRicherNowVP

Coco Gauff easily has more champion mentality and guile than half of the top 50 players. If you didn’t know the two players you would think Osaka was the 15 year old and Gauff was the defending champion from watching this match.

I didn’t think she was ready to beat Osaka and yes, Osaka was NOT good on this match, but Gauff had a lot to do with that. Keep going Coco!

Osaka needs to re-assess what she’s doing out there and work on that mentality...it’s holding her back

Bummer about Serena btw. She was not playing great either but she kept fighting until the last point as she always does. Was impressed that Wang improved that much from when they met at US Open.