Coco Gauff saves match points to reach last-16 at Wimbledon

Cori Gauff on the practice courts on day four of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club

After saving a pair of match points, the fleet 15-year-old from Florida barged into the tournament's second week with a stunning come-from-behind 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5 win over Polona Hercog.

And those fans were getting ready to wave goodbye to "Coco" until next year as she trailed 2-5 in the second.

If schadenfreude can soothe a broken heart, Harriet Dart might have been advised to enjoy the action on court two as she licked her wounds from her chastening third round exit.

But Gauff climbed off the canvas and showed she has a strong fighting spirit to add to her precocious talent, earning a 3-6 7-6 (7) 7-5 win over the Slovenian.

The youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon since tennis turned professional a little over half a century ago, Gauff has captured the imagination.

Harriet Dart, left, was ditched for Coco Gauff.

Cori Gauff - or "Coco" to anyone who has been paying attention.

World No 7 Halep, who won the French Open in 2018, will be her sternest test yet. Schedulers placed Novak Djokovic, the defending men's singles champion, on the No. 1 Court, while Gauff, ranked No. 313 entering the tournament, was put on Centre Court.

Those two wins made her favourite when she faced Polona Hercog in the third round, world No. 60.

Up in the stands, her mother rose to pump a fist and yell, "Yes!" Thousands of spectators jumped out of their seats, too, roaring.

Gauff, who is 15 years old, made headlines at Wimbledon when she defeated her childhood idol Venus Williams (and wore a amusing shirt afterword) in the first round.

Most players, no matter the age, would not be able to find a path past that kind of a deficit on this imposing a stage, would not be able to handle that sort of stress and figure out a way. Gauff is, quite clearly, not most players. That much has been established. How far can she go, both this fortnight and in the future?

"I'm happy that they enjoyed watching me play", she said.

He also said that he is "not surprised" at Cori Gauff's abilities as he has known her since she was 10-years old, but he has been surprised at how quickly her skills have developed.

Gauff, who still has a way to go to emulate the then 15-year-old Jennifer Capriati reaching the semi-finals in 1991, will play former world number one Simona Halep of Romania for a place in the last eight.

With Gauff serving at 30-40, Hercog was a point from victory. But the teen conjured up a backhand slice victor that dropped right on the chalk.

"I think I'm just going to approach her like every other match I have been approaching. They're like, 'We'll be back in a couple hours.' Then I see on Facebook they're in Miami at Beyonce and Jay-Z".

Gauff maintained her momentum as she played near flawless tennis to break Hercog, who received treatment on her back at the end of the second set, in the fourth game of the decider before showing signs of tension as she was broken comfortably three games later.

Joining them in the Royal Box were ex-Tory leader Lord William Hague, British Olympic rowing champion Dame Katherine Grainger, retired Irish rugby player Brian O'Driscoll and Spice Girls singer Geri Horner.



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