U.S.'s Coco Gauff beats Australian Open title holder Naomi Osaka
“I came to the realization that I need to play my own game, not worry about what people think of me,” Gauff says.
Cori "Coco" Gauff celebrates after winning match point during her Women's Singles third round match against Naomi Osaka of Japan day five of the Australian Open on Friday.Cameron Spencer / Getty Images
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MELBOURNE, Australia — American teen tennis sensation Cori "Coco" Gauff did it again.
On Friday she beat Naomi Osaka of Japan in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, to advance to the fourth round of the Australian Open. Gauff becomes the youngest player in the professional era to eliminate the reigning women's champion at the tournament.
“Honestly, like, what is my life? Like, oh, my gosh!” Gauff said to the crowd after the match. “Two years ago, I lost first round in juniors and now I'm here. This is crazy.”
On Monday, the 15-year-old Gauff defeated one of the most decorated players in women’s tennis and her own role model: Venus Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam winner. It was practically a replay of the first round Wimbledon match that propelled the prodigy from Florida to stardom just seven months ago, when she beat Williams against the odds.
Earlier this week, Gauff said she doesn’t submit to statistics and expectations, rather her own goals of doing her best each time.
This time, she told NBC News, she walked onto the court a different player.
“I think I’m more relaxed when I go out on the court,” she said.
And there’s something else, Gauff said. This time, she is more confident.
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“I respect everyone’s game and I respect my opponent. But at the end of the day, if I’m going to go against them, I can’t say ‘Oh, I’m going to lose this match.’”
“I believe I can beat anyone,” said Gauff, who calls Delray Beach, Florida, home.
She admitted it’s hard to believe only seven months have passed since she shocked the tennis world at Wimbledon, advancing to the fourth round before ultimately falling to Romanian Simona Halep, who went on to defeat Serena Williams in the final.
Gauff had already fared well in her Australian Open debut. After her first round victory over Williams, she mounted a tremendous comeback in round two, defeating Sorana Cirstea.