AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2020 TEENAGE SENSATION, COCO GAUF DREAMS MANY SLAMS

American 15-year old sensation, Coco Gauf who beat Venus Williams on Monday at the Australian Open has expressed belief that she can beat anyone after second shock win over Venus

After becoming just the fourth woman in the past 30 years to win six or more Grand Slam matches before turning 16, it is little wonder Coco Gauff is reaching for the stars.

After stunning fellow American Venus Williams – 24 years her senior – yet again in the first round of a Major yesterday, Gauff said that she is on “a mission to be the greatest”.

She defeated the seven-time Grand Slam singles winner 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 at the Australian Open to set up a second-round clash with unseeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea.

This was Williams’ second loss to Gauff, 15, in as many career meetings following last year’s upset at Wimbledon.

While Gauff holds the world No. 55 – and her sister, 23-time Major singles champion Serena – in high regard, she wants to emulate their trailblazing success.

Warning she can still improve “a lot”, the world No. 67 said: “That’s my goal, to win as many Grand Slams as possible.”

Asked if she felt she could lift her maiden Major title at this tournament, she replied: “If I go into a tournament thinking I’ll lose, then I’m going to lose.

“I believe I can beat anyone, but that’s almost every player’s mentality. The ones who are the great ones, they don’t really fear anyone.”

Touted as a long-term successor to Serena, Gauff’s run to the fourth round of Wimbledon – where she lost to eventual champion Simona Halep – propelled her into the sporting limelight.

She went on to win her first WTA title last October in Linz, Austria, and Venus has tipped the youngster for the top.

“She clearly wants it, works very hard, is extremely mature for her age,” said the former world No. 1. “The sky’s the limit for her.”

American Jennifer Capriati and Swiss Martina Hingis – both former world No. 1s and multiple Grand Slam champions – as well as Bulgarian Magdalena Maleeva are the other players since 1990 to win six or more Grand Slam matches before turning 16.

As Gauff continues to belie her tender years with her power, precision and composure, she is still a typical teenager in many respects.

By her own admission, she is “very active” on TikTok, a video-sharing social media network.

“I procrastinate a lot on that app. I have to do homework,” she said. “Everyone thinks I’m so serious because of my on-court (demeanour). Really I’m not.”

Williams was not the only big name to fall at the opening hurdle, with 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens slumping to a 6-2, 5-7, 2-6 defeat by unseeded Zhang Shuai.

The result was a repeat of their 2018 meeting at the same stage and an early birthday present for the Chinese, who turns 31 today.

While fears that the bush-fire smoke would plague the first day proved to be unfounded, with air quality being rated as “good”, rain prompted several delays and meant play continued into the evening.

A downpour has also been forecast for today, with disruptions expected at a tournament more often associated with extreme heat at the height of the Australian summer.

-AFP