Coco Gauff’s bid to develop into the youngest Australian Open champion since 1997 gathered tempo Friday with a straight-sets victory over fellow American Bernarda Pera.
The 18-year-old received 6-3, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena to arrange a last-16 conflict towards the 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.
A maiden Grand Slam title for seventh seed Gauff would make her the youngest Melbourne champion since a 16-year-old Martina Hingis 26 years in the past.
Gauff headed into the primary main of the 12 months on a excessive after profitable her third WTA title on the Auckland Classic earlier this month.
She admitted she “bought fortunate” in her tight second-round victory over Emma Raducanu in a battle of tennis prodigies.
But Gauff let her racquet do the speaking in her first assembly with power-hitter Pera, relentlessly absorbing some late stress from the world quantity 41 when serving for the match at 5-2.
“She was hitting the ball actually arduous,” stated Gauff, who this week grew to become the primary girl to register 100 tour-level wins earlier than her nineteenth birthday since Caroline Wozniacki in 2009.
“So I used to be attempting to hold in there and take the bottom once I may.
“Last season she had a very lengthy match streak so I knew she could be a troublesome participant to beat, so I’m glad to be via to the second week.”
Gauff is one in all two youngsters left within the ladies’s draw. The different is 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova, who performs Marketa Vondrousova in an all-Czech third-round conflict on Saturday.
Gauff admitted that taking part in a former Grand Slam champion in Ostapenko for a spot within the quarter-finals would current a distinct problem, and she or he wouldn’t have all of it her personal means.
“I feel for me, I performed her earlier than,” stated Gauff who beat the Latvian 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 of their solely earlier assembly, the 2019 Linz closing in Austria for the teenager’s first WTA Tour title.
That match was additionally on a tough court docket, however indoors.
“I feel it is simply it’s essential to be offensive when you possibly can. Obviously there’s going to be photographs that she hits which can be simply going to be too good. You should be accepting that.”
It is the primary time seventeenth seed Ostapenko has reached the final 16 at Melbourne Park.
“She’s a fantastic participant and she or he’s nonetheless very younger, however she’s already very skilled,” stated Ostapenko of Gauff.
“I truthfully will go on the market and simply benefit from the match as a result of it is nice to be already within the fourth spherical.”