Defending champion Naomi Osaka was knocked out of the Australian Open this Friday (Jan 24), falling 6-3, 6-4 in a stunning upset by American teenage sensation Coco Gauff in the third round.
The 22-year-old was the third former Open winner to bow out of the draw 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.
Gauff, who lost to Osaka easily 6-3, 6-0 at the US Open last year, avoided a repeat defeat as a string of backhand errors off the Japanese player’s racquet gave the 15-year-old the break midway through the opening set.
The pattern repeated itself in the second set, as Osaka continued to misfire and Gauff served out the victory after just 67 minutes on court.
The youngest player in the draw will play 14th seed Sofia Kenin of the United States or China’s Zhang Shuai.
“Oh my gosh. Two years ago I lost the first round in the juniors and now I’m here – this is crazy,” said Gauff. “I was just telling myself one point at a time and just keep fighting because you never know what happens on this court.”
When Gauff and Osaka met five months ago in New York, also in round three, then-world No. 1 Osaka crushed the tearful and overawed teenager in a little over an hour.
That first clash was memorable also for what happened afterwards, when the teenager cried and Osaka consoled her, before the Japanese herself began welling up.