Teen sensation Cori Gauff’s headline-grabbing run at Wimbledon finally came to an end in the fourth round as she was defeated in straight sets 6-3 6-3 by world No.7 Simona Halep.
The 15-year-old is the youngest player to qualify for the Championship in the Open Era, and the youngest to make the second week of a Grand Slam since Jennifer Capriati in 1991.
She had already seen off Venus Williams, Magdalena Rybarikova and Polona Hercog en route to the fourth round, but former French Open winner Halep – who was only dethroned as world No.1 in January of this year – proved a step too far.
As was the case against Hercog, Gauff looked a little tense early on, getting broken in her very first service game, but this time hit back immediately to level the scores – and then held with consummate ease, firing 119mph serves towards her opponent.
Now it was Halep’s serve that looked ragged, serving three double faults in a row, though Gauff failed to capitalise and still seemed to be ruing her missed opportunity when she was broken in the following game. Gauff wasn’t playing badly, manoeuvring Halep around the court in a string of baseline rallies, but the Romanian knows how to scrap and scramble and there were several instances where the teenager felt as though she’d won a point with a powerful forehand only for the former world No.1 to pull off an unlikely winner.
At this point, her head started to drop a little, and she was broken in both her final service game of the first set and her first of the second; Halep appeared to be in control, but so did Hercog on Friday night, and again Gauff refused to go away, breaking back. A medical timeout followed, with Coco seemingly struggling with her abdomen, though she managed to hold for the first time in three attempts. It was only a brief respite, with Halep turning the screw again and showing all her experience and nous, dominating the match.
The Wimbledon crowd may not have liked it, but the 27-year-old is looking like a legitimate challenger this year and served out the match with relative ease, Gauff unable to pull off another miracle comeback, and Halep will take on China’s Shuai Zhang in the quarter-final on Tuesday.
Still, Coco – who won £176,000 during her run – left No.1 Court to huge cheers and a standing ovation, having lit up the Championship over the past week, and this will not be the last Wimbledon sees of a teenager surely destined for Grand Slam glory in the not too distant future.
Photo Credit: Getty