Coco Gauff makes astonishing comeback to reach Wimbledon last 16

By Sonia OxleyBBC Sport at Wimbledon
Wimbledon 2019 on the BBC
Venue: All England Club Dates: 1-14 July
Coverage: Live across BBC TV, radio and online with extensive coverage on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, Connected TVs and mobile app. Full details

American 15-year-old Coco Gauff saved two match points in another astonishing display to extend her dream Wimbledon run into the last 16.

A packed Centre Court, enchanted by the teen who knocked out five-time champion Venus Williams, saw her beat Slovenian Polona Hercog 3-6 7-6 (9-7) 7-5.

After double-faulting to hand Hercog the first set, Gauff was staring at defeat at 5-2 in the second.

But she pulled back to force a tie-break and snatched another famous win.

"I always knew I could come back whatever the score was," Gauff, who will face Romanian former world number one Simona Halep next, told BBC television.

"The crowd was amazing. Even when I was down match point they were still cheering me on."

Gauff surprises everyone - again!

From the moment she arrived in London, Gauff has been doing things her way - and in style.

First, she was the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon in the Open era, then she became the youngest player to reach the last 32 since 1991.

After stunning one of her idols Williams 6-4 6-4 in the first round, and then proving it was no fluke with another straight-set win over former Wimbledon semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova, Gauff became the story of the championships.

Such was the interest in her that this third-round match - which on paper was a qualifier against an unseeded player - ended up on Centre Court, one of the sport's biggest stages.

And it more than justified the decision.

Trailing by a double break in the second set, Gauff was heading for the exit door. Facing two match points, she had one foot out of it.

But if there was any doubt over the mental strength of this youngster, she answered it - saving one match point with a bold, line-kissing winner, before Hercog double-faulted on the other.

She must have sensed it was going to be her day when a lucky net cord in the tie-break edged her ahead - and she held her nerve in a who-will-blink-first rally on set point, then unleashed the forehand winner that drew her level.

Gauff beat her chest in celebration, her mum dared to look up, and the Centre Court crowd rose to their feet with a roar.

A nervy third set followed, with Gauff eventually carving out a match point after two hours 45 minutes, completing the remarkable turnaround when Hercog hit long.

She dropped her racquet and jumped up and down with her arms in the air, then put her hands behind her head in disbelief. Her mum danced with joy and the 14,000-strong crowd leapt to their feet in stunned admiration.

Her exploits this week led to 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer introducing himself to her and Rafael Nadal watching her train, while her mobile phone was - in her words - "banging".

It will not stop now either.

Pocket money for a 15-year-old - £176,000

Only eligible to play 10 tournaments at professional level between her 15th and 16th birthdays, Gauff seems to have chosen wisely.

Even if she loses to 2018 French Open champion Halep in the next round on Monday, the teenager will take home prize money of £176,000.

Her career earnings until now were £60,000.

"I can't buy a car because I can't drive," she said. "Maybe I'm going to buy some hoodies."

Her Wimbledon run so far will lift Gauff into the world's top 200, up from 313 at the start of the tournament.

If she can negotiate her way past potential opponents, such as third seed Karolina Pliskova, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams or world number one Ashleigh Barty, she would rise even higher.

And, whisper it quietly at this stage, no 15-year-old has ever won a Grand Slam singles title. On this showing, it is not something that would faze this one.


Two-time Grand Slam champion Tracy Austin on BBC television

It was so dramatic. What an occasion.

To get to the second week in your first major is absolutely incredible. The concentration and focus from both ladies was incredible.

It was almost sweeter the way she was able to come back from two match points. To come back form such a huge deficit, to be able to change her game, and to keep her wits about her.

Everyone will remember it.


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