Coco Gauff was down 3-6, 2-5 and serving against Polona Hercog in her Wimbledon third round match. Gauff was simultaneously four points from defeat, but only a break away from the opportunity to hold and even up the set. Serve well, make the opponent play, don’t give the match away. These are lessons taught to the tennis world today by World #313 and only 15-year-old Gauff.
15 and Grown Up
With her parents and the entire tennis world looking on, Gauff held, saved two match points, and wrestled away her third round match from veteran Polona Hercog. Gauff swiped the second set in a nail biting, slice dominated tiebreak, then won the third set 7-5 to advance to the Wimbledon’s fourth round.
Born in 2004, Gauff becomes the youngest woman to advance to the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament since Jennifer Capriati accomplished the feat as a 14-year-old in 1990. She will now play former World #1 and seventh seeded Simona Halep in the round of 16.
Saving Match Points
After dropping the first set and falling behind 2-5 in the second, Gauff played more steady and showed fewer nerves than her 28-year-old opponent. Despite having years of experience and having played in the main draw of 35 previous Grand Slam events, Hercog could not close the door her teenage opponent playing in her first Grand Slam event.
In the critical second set, Hercog held a match point on Gauff’s serve, but the young American painted the line with a winner to advance the affair. Serving with match point at 5-3, Hercog gifted the teen a double fault and was eventually broken. Gauff then held for 5-5, the pair traded holds for 6-6 before Gauff narrowly outplayed Hercog to grab the tiebreak 9-7.
The Final Set
Momentum in the third set swayed back and forth more than once. The pair traded breaks and alternated between outstanding shots and nervous misses. With a chance to knot the set at 5-5, Hercog netted a volley to end a 32 shot rally. She quickly rebounded with excellent shots to get to 5-5.
Immediately, Gauff answered with a strong service game to take a 6-5 lead. Serving to stay in the match for a second time Hercog’s effective slice shot lost just a touch of effectiveness and Gauff pounced. Hercog sliced long to give Gauff a deuce opportunity. Hercog then netted an easy forehand, giving Gauff match point. Hercog flew another forehand long and the 15 year old was the winner. 3-6 7-6 7-5 and a teen moves on to the second week at Wimbledon, continuing a historic run.