- 05 Jul 2019
Cori Gauff’s incredible Wimbledon run continued with a remarkable recovery to defeat Polona Hercog 3-6 7-6 (9-7) 7-5 on her Centre Court debut.
The 15-year-old became the youngest qualifier at the All England Club in the Open Era and then dumped out idol Venus Williams in the first round.
Another victory followed against Magdalena Rybarikova and the confident Gauff repeated claims she aimed to win the whole tournament.
That dream bid looked set to end on Friday as she faced match point in the second set against Hercog, but Gauff suddenly and spectacularly rediscovered her best form to turn the match on its head and bravely battled through.
Simona Halep lies ahead in the fourth round, representing a significantly tougher test, yet Gauff has risen to each and every challenge so far.
After a tentative start, Hercog edged in front when she correctly appealed an out call in the corner of the court to see break point replayed, outmanoeuvring the American for the lead.
A hold to love cemented the advantage and Gauff, still finding her feet, saw a set slip away from her for the first time at the tournament with a pair of double-faults and another break.
And Hercog was in complete control when the teenager scuffed into the net to trail again at the start of the second, part of a run of seven straight games for the more experienced player.
But Gauff showed incredible grit to dig in when facing match point on Hercog’s serve, recovering to force her first break points of the match, taking the second and levelling the set.
The pressure was building on Hercog heading into the tie-break and, after the pair four times traded mini-breaks, Gauff executed a crucial smash at the end of an epic rally to set up the decider.
The teenager kept pushing and Hercog went wide from a second break point, but an extremely sloppy service game ceded that advantage when two games from victory.
But Gauff would not be beaten and rallied again, attacking Hercog time and again and, with her first match point, seeing a lob from the Slovenian land long.
Cori Gauff bt Polona Hercog 3-6 7-6 (9-7) 7-5
Gauff – 24/43
Hercog – 34/45
Gauff – 3/6
Hercog – 4/4
BREAK POINTS WON
Gauff – 3/5
Hercog – 4/8
FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Gauff – 71
Hercog – 47
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Gauff – 67/52
Hercog – 71/60
Gauff – 102
Hercog – 108