A surprise defeat in the ASB Classic came as a blow to Coco Gauff, who now has to wait for a first career singles match against Serena Williams.
Coco Gauff knew the stakes were high, as victory in the second round of the ASB Classic would have earned her a first career meeting with the great Serena Williams.
But the 15-year-old suffered disappointment in Auckland, with Germany’s Laura Siegemund earning a surprise 5-7 6-2 6-3 victory in a contest lasting two hours and 14 minutes.
After scrapping to win the first set, it looked like Gauff would find a way to move into the quarterfinals, which would have seen her play fellow American Serena for the first time.
Siegemund, though, had other ideas as Gauff was broken eight times in the match, including in all four of her service games in the second set.
A Serena-Coco meeting could still take place in the doubles final depending on how the semifinals turn out later this week. Gauff and partner Caty McNally are in one half of the draw, with Serena and Caroline Wozniacki in the other.
But their first one-on-one duel will have to wait, with Gauff frustrated she could not follow up a smooth performance in the first round against Viktoria Kuzmova. Her loss was sealed with a wide forehand on her 31-year-old opponent’s first match point.
Coco Gauff admitted that already be on the big stage at top WTA Tour events was challenging at a time when she is still inexperienced and developing her game.
The teenager felt (h/t stuff.co.nz) she had overplayed to try and force her way to victory, vowing to learn the lessons in time for the Australian Open.
“I definitely made a lot of errors and I had a troubling time holding my serve.
“I think that’s one of the reasons why I lost too, she did a great job returning and I was making a lot of errors off the first and second ball.
“I think I tried to overplay where I should have gone for bigger targets, instead of going for lines.
“I’m still learning and that’s the problem that I have. My dad said I didn’t play like I played in practice.
“I didn’t play the right way and if I lost playing the right way it would have been fine, but I don’t think I was playing the right way.
“I don’t think there was much missing. I just told my dad that I didn’t feel like I was hitting my shots like I normally do.
“That just happens, you have bad days, you can’t play your best tennis every day.
“It’s OK, I learned a lot from this match and for this next week I’ll work on the things I need to work on, to get ready for the Australian Open.”
After her doubles commitments at the ASB Classic, Gauff will prepare for the Australian Open, where she will hope to at least perform similarly to her fourth-round and third-round appearances at Wimbledon and the US Open in the second half of last year.
Missing out on a shot at Serena Williams and going out early in Auckland is an early blow in 2020, but bigger challenges lie ahead for Coco Gauff.
She will be unseeded in Melbourne and you can be sure all of the top players will want to avoid her in the draw.