January 22, 2020
Coco Gauff never knows when she is beaten.
She smiles because her father still calls her “kid.” He tells her she can always win, whatever the scoreboard says. She believes him.
Even though she is still technically a kid, Coco Gauff doesn’t play like one. More like an escapologist.
We saw it on Centre Court at Wimbledon last summer. The sporting world watched her exploits and welcomed a new superstar right there.
British crowds went crazy for Coco.
And there is every indication we could be treated to more of her inspirational heroics at Wimbledon this coming summer too.
For the 15-year-old’s incredible story has continued at the Australian Open with yet another extraordinary Houdini act.
First, she was a set down against Sorana Cirstea. Then Coco managed to battle back to level accounts.
But in the deciding set, the American teenager slipped to 0-3 down and seemed to be going nowhere.
You could almost have predicted what happened next.
Her audience demanded it. Australian tennis fans got behind her just when she needed it most.
How she repaid them!
The Comeback Queen duly did her thing again and clawed her way back into contention just when she was being written off by seasoned observers.
Pretty soon the power was flowing from her racquet once more. The timing certainly didn’t seem to belong to a child.
It was beautiful to watch. Spectators lucky enough to be witnessing her irrepressible spirit first-hand went wild.
Coco’s ruthlessness returned at the right moment too.
She broke in the eleventh game, served out to clinch a sensational 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory and celebrated like she had just won the Aussie Open itself.
Both fists pumping the air, Coco jumped up and down as her delighted father did the same in the stands.
The prize is what promises to be a dramatic showdown with reigning champion Naomi Osaka.
Surely Coco, the young lady who isn’t even sweet sixteen until March, can’t shock us all again? Not against someone with Osaka’s might?
It seems a bit much to ask. But you just never know with Gauff.
Besides, no one really knows what will happen in this unpredictable women’s tournament.
One thing’s for sure, though.
We can’t wait to see Coco’s amazing fighting spirit at play once more at Wimbledon 2020.
And such is her charisma that it was easy to forget some of the other great things happened in Melbourne on Day 3.
Heather Watson produced an uplifting display to beat Krystina Pliskova in three sets.
The happy Brit says she is relaxed and at the top of her game. It is nice to see her enjoying life so much at long last.
Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic progressed with ease and would have played Dan Evans next – except that the last surviving British male lost his match to Yoshihito Nishioki in straight sets.
But upstaging all the “adults” was Gauff. The whole world is enjoying Coco The Kid’s rise to the top.
By the time Wimbledon 2020 comes around, she will probably think she is capable of anything. Because she is.