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“If Serena and Venus saw two 18-year-old African American playing on the WTA 500 level, I think they’ll be proud”: Gauff after win over Montgomery

In a battle between 18-year-old African American players, Coco Gauff defeated Robin Montgomery 6-3, 6-3 on Wednesday to reach the second round of the San Diego Open

Coco Gauff, 2022 Coco Gauff, 2022 | © Zuma / Panoramic

Roland-Garros runner-up Coco Gauff has been one of the young rising stars of the women’s game for the past few years now.

On Wednesday, the sixth seeded American took on a player younger than her for the first time on the WTA Tour as she faced off against countrywoman Robin Montgomery, who comes with her own pedigree, in the first round of the WTA San Diego Open

Montgomery won the US Open juniors title last year and has been marked as one of the young players to watch out herself.

Gauff admits pressure

While Gauff did admit that she felt a little bit of pressure taking on a player younger than her, she managed to keep those aside and defeat Montgomery 6-3, 6-3 in a rain-delayed match from Tuesday evening.

Gauff, who has known Montgomery since they were kids, was left impressed with her opponent’s level and believes she will become a factor on the main tour in the near future.

“I know Robin very well, we went on a couple USTA trips back when we were like eight years old,” Gauff said as quoted by the WTA Tour. “Pretty much friends ever since. She played really well. I expected a good level from her. (I) was pretty impressed with how well she was striking the ball, it was difficult for me. I told her at the end of the match, maybe next time we play, it’s not in a first round match, maybe we’ll play in a final.”

During her on-court interview, Gauff paid tribute to Venus and Serena Williams, saying that both she and Montgomery are products of the legacy of the Williams sisters.

Gauff – Andreescu next

“It definitely affects the future a lot. I think if Serena and Venus saw this today, two 18-year-olds, both African Americans, playing on the WTA 500 level, I think they’ll be proud and I think both of us are products of their legacy,” Gauff said. “I’m grateful that I had those examples to follow after and I hope that I can maybe be an example myself.”

It doesn’t get any easier next for Gauff, ranked No 8, as she takes on former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, of Canada, for a spot in the quarter-finals. This will be the first meeting between the two players.

“I’m proud how I performed” – Montgomery after loss to Gauff

By coming through the qualifying draw and winning a round in San Diego, the left-handed Montgomery is projected to rise to a career-high No 255 in the world.

The 18-year-old added that she was proud of her performance and needs to continue playing her aggressive game style. “I believe playing fearlessly is how I need to play my game. With my game style I just need to go out there and swing. Can’t give them the opportunity to control the points. Obviously, it didn’t go my way. Coco is… extremely fast. I’m proud how I performed.”

The 18-year-old plays a big game based on power and it came as no surprise then that her favourite player is fellow southpaw and big-hitting Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova.

“I really like watching Kvitova because she’s a lefty and I like her demeanor on the court as well. Obviously, Serena and Venus. And then Carlos and Frances are the men’s players I like to watch,” Montgomery said as quoted by the WTA Tour social media handle.

San Diego WTA 500, other first-round results (Barnes Tennis Centre, hard, USD 757.900, most recent results first):

  • Qinwen Zheng (LL) beat Garbine Muguruza: 5-0 ret.
  • Daria Kasatkina (8) beat Leylah Fernandez (WC): 6-2, 6-2
  • Sloane Stephens (WC) beat Jil Teichmann (LL): 6-1, 7-6 (2)
  • Karolina Pliskova beat Caroline Dolehide (Q): 6-3, 6-4
  • Donna Vekic (Q) beat Maria Sakkari (5): 7-6 (3), 6-1
  • Bianca Andreescu beat Liudmila Samsonova: 7-6 (1), 4-6, 6-2
  • Danielle Collins beat Caroline Garcia (7): 6-2, 7-6 (4)
  • Coco Vandeweghe (WC) beat Sofia Kenin: 6-1, 1-6, 6-4
  • Martina Trevisan beat Camila Osorio (Q): 6-3, 6-4
  • Louisa Chirico (Q) beat Alison Riske-Amritraj: 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5)
  • Madison Keys beat Ellen Perez (Q): 6-1, 6-4
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