Coco Gauff earned the biggest win of her young career on Friday, beating defending champion Naomi Osaka in their third-round match at the Australian Open.
Gauff turned the tables on Osaka from their meeting at last year’s US Open, winning in straight sets by a 6-3, 6-4 score.
Gauff Remains Steady in Historic Victory
In doing so, Guaff became the youngest American to beat a top-5 player on the women’s tour since Jennifer Capriati did so, also at age 15, in 1991.
“Honestly, like, what is my life?” Gauff told the crowd after her match. “Two years ago, I lost first round in juniors, and now I’m here. This is crazy.”
Gauff surprised Osaka and many observers by playing a clean, collected game. She made just 17 unforced errors in the match, compared to 30 for the 22-year-old Osaka.
After their first match, Osaka consoled a disappointed Gauff. This time, the two-time Grand Slam champion praised her young opponent.
“You don’t want to lose to a 15-year-old, you know,” Osaka said. “But I guess that’s for me, like, a reality check. It doesn’t really matter the age of the opponent. Of course she deserves to be here. She played her matches. I just have to work harder. I love her, but I don’t like this feeling of losing to her.”
Serena Williams Blames Herself for Loss
Wang Qiang pulled off an even larger upset on Friday, defeating 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams 6-4, 6-7 (7-2), 7-5. The loss was Williams’ earliest from the Australian Open in 14 years.
Williams took the blame for the loss, saying she needs to be better to reach her remaining career goals.
“I definitely do believe [I can win another Grand Slam] or I wouldn’t be on tour. I don’t play just to have fun, and to lose is really not fun to play to lose, personally,” Serena said after the match. “Honestly, if we were just honest with ourselves, it’s all on my shoulders. I lost that match, so it is what it is. Like I said, it’s not about the tournament. It’s just like, I can’t play like that. I literally can’t do that again. That’s unprofessional, and it’s not cool.”
The losses by Williams and Osaka launched Ashleigh Barty into the position of favorite in the women’s draw. FanDuel Sportsbook now has Barty as a +280 favorite to win the Australian Open, ahead of Karolina Pliskova (+600), Petra Kvitova (+600), and Simona Halep (+600). Gauff is the fifth choice at +1500.
Federer Survives, Djokovic Blows Away Nishioka
In men’s play, Roger Federer survived a five-set marathon against Australian hopeful John Millman. Federer needed to come back from 8-4 down in the final, 10-point, fifth-set tiebreak to win 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (10-8).
“I think if I do play tennis, it’s because of winning titles, trying to win as many matches as possible, [enjoying] myself out on court,” Federer said afterwards. “But also being in epic matches like this.”
Australian Open Odds (Top Saturday Matches)
- Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (+250) vs. Karolina Pliskova (-320)
- Rafael Nadal (-3500) vs. Pablo Carreno Busta (+1950)
- Belinda Bencic (-148) vs. Anett Kontaveit (+126)
- Taylor Fritz (+210) vs. Dominic Thiem (-250)
- Nick Kyrgios (-225) vs. Karen Khachanov (+186)
- David Goffin (+158) vs. Andrey Rublev (-186)
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
Australian Open favorite Novak Djokovic breezed through his match, defeating Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, in just 85 minutes. Djokovic is a -130 pick to win the men’s tournament, ahead of Rafael Nadal (+440) and Federer (+650).