American teenager Coco Gauff produced a performance for the ages to knock out defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka on Friday.
The 15-year-old has already made headlines around the world but none of her achievements so far could compare to this as she took apart one of the best players in the world on Rod Laver Arena.
Gauff showed just how far she has come since Osaka produced a complete performance to beat her for the loss of three games at the US Open as she completed a stunning 6-3 6-4 success in 67 minutes.
Gauff was stunned by her achievement, saying: “Two years ago I lost first round in juniors, and now I’m here. This is crazy.
“I was just telling myself one point at a time and keep fighting because you never know what happens on this court.
“I’m on Rod Laver Arena, I can’t believe this.”
Gauff is keen to meet legendary Rod Laver
She was rock solid and took advantage of a error-strewn display from Osaka who became the third former Australian Open winner to bow out after Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki, who won the title in 2017 and 2018, lost their respective matches at Melbourne Park earlier in the day.
The teenager was trading well with Osaka from the back of the court and, as the first set progressed, it was the defending champion who started to snatch at her shots, missing a succession of backhands.
Did you know…
The American is the youngest player to beat a top-five ranked opponent since Jennifer Capriati toppled Gabriela Sabatini at the 1991 US Open.
From 3-3, Gauff won three straight games to move a set in front and then broke the Osaka serve again at the start of the second set.
She had two chances to hold for 2-0 but could not take either and it seemed the chink of light that Osaka needed to get a foothold in the match again.
But the Japanese player simply was not playing well, and the unforced errors continued to flow.
Gauff broke again to lead 4-3 and, although Osaka forced her young opponent to serve it out, a comeback never looked on the cards.
Gauff said she had been too shy to speak to Rod Laver when she had passed him in he corridor but hoped to set up a meeting.
Laver was quick to respond on Twitter, saying: “Hello CocoGauff – congratulations on your incredible victory tonight. I would love to meet you too.”
While this was a spectacular day for Gauff, it was a desperately disappointing one for Osaka, who had battled so brilliantly to win her second grand slam title here 12 months ago but succumbed meekly and could now drop out of the top 10.
Asked what she could have done differently, Osaka said with a smile: “Put the ball in the court.”
The third seed said, compared to their New York meeting, Gauff had been more aggressive, adding: “Her serve is way better than when I played her last year.
“I feel like I wasn’t really swinging freely and she was. I just feel tight playing here a little bit because of the defending thing.
“And then today more because I have played her before. There’s always such a huge hype leading into the match. And of course it’s well-deserved. It’s just tough.
“You don’t want to lose to a 15-year-old. But I guess that’s for me a reality check.