January 24, 2020
Coco Gauff worked yet another tennis miracle today – and then reminded us just how young she is.
The fabulous fifteen-year-old beat the defending Australian Open champion, Naomi Osaka with relative ease
The 6-3, 6-4 scoreline didn’t flatter Coco.
She really did look that classy.
And on a day when Serena Williams was knocked out and Roger Federer so nearly followed, it was refreshing to see the future of tennis in such safe hands.
Before she left court, Coco expressed her own amazement at what she had done.
‘Honestly, what is my life?’ she reflected in typical teenage fashion. ‘Oh my gosh, two years ago I’d just lost first round in juniors. Now I’m here. This is crazy.’
And in some respects, it is indeed crazy for a teenager to go globetrotting in search of a sporting dream when she should really be in school.
But when you’re as talented as Coco, everyone understands – even her teachers.
Gauff explained: ‘My teachers, they’re giving me some time because considering the circumstances they’re letting me submit some assignments later.
‘I’ll probably do some homework tomorrow because I want to go to sleep tonight.’
If Osaka heard those words, they wouldn’t have made her feel any better.
‘You don’t want to lose to a fifteen-year-old, you know?’ That’s what Naomi admitted a few minutes later.
To her credit, Osaka did add quickly that age didn’t matter, Coco was there on merit.
Naomi also said that since she was the one who had lost, she would just have to work harder.
And that’s what Serena Williams vowed to do after she played Qiang Wang, the Chinese 27th seed who had managed to take only one game off the American at the US Open in September.
What a difference a few months makes. This time Qiang Wang won 6-4, 6-7 (2-7), 7-5 to send the superstar out of the tournament.
Serena made so many unforced errors that she declared she had been ‘unprofessional’ – and must never let her level drop that low again.
But Williams wasn’t the only big name to fall. Stefanos Tsitsipas lost in straight sets to Milos Raonic.
Then the great Roger Federer almost lost out to John Millman, who once knocked him out of the US Open.
But somehow the Fed clawed his way back to win 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6. The champions’ tie-break ended 10-8 to Roger after he was 8-4 down.
Federer said: ‘Thank God it was a super tie-break otherwise I would have been a goner.
‘I was getting ready to explain myself in the press conference. The demons are always there.’
That made one hundred Australian Open wins for Federer.
He will have to play much better if wants to win again here, though. And he will need to keep those demons under control far better.
For the moment Novak Djokovic, the overwhelming favourite, looks imperious in the men’s tournament.
His masterclass involved winning 34 consecutive points on serve as he defeated Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.
But even Novak and Roger were upstaged by Coco, The Kid Colossus on the day. She just loves the big occasions.
Remember her inspirational run at Wimbledon last year? We can expect more of the same at Wimbledon 2020.
And the only consolation her defeated opponents will have is that Coco will at least have turned sixteen by then.