In a rematch of their first-round Wimbledon clash last year, Coco Gauff and Venus Williams met in the opening round of the Australian Open on Monday.
Once again, it was Gauff who came out on top in this generational battle, as she advanced with a 7-6(5), 6-3 victory.
“I definitely was more confident this time,” said Gauff. “I think I was used to playing on big courts, so the size of the crowd didn’t startle me as much as last time. I was definitely a bit more positive coming into this match this time around.”
That confidence was evident from the start as she jumped out to the early 2-0 lead. Venus would bring the set even at 5-5 as she broke Gauff serving for the set, and forced it into a tiebreaker. Once again, Gauff went up ahead, this time 5-2, only to see Venus tie things at 5-5.
But Gauff would win the next two points on serve to claim the opening set, and then began the second set with a break sandwiched in between two holds for a 3-0 lead. From there, the 15-year-old American served out the match and booked her spot in the second round.
“I was really nervous before today’s match. That was really difficult, she played really well. It was hard to get aggressive against her,” said Gauff. “I was trying to put the ball in play, gut it out. I’m glad I was able to get through it. Now I’m feeling great.”
Up next for Gauff is Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, who ousted 32nd seed Barbora Strycova 6-2, 7-6(5).
Defending champion and third-seed Naomi Osaka cruised to a 6-2, 6-4 win over Marie Bouzkova in her opener, while 24th seeded American Sloane Stephens was upset Shuai Zhang in three sets.
Serena Williams needed less than an hour to win 6-0, 6-3 win over Russia’s Anastasia Potapova, and her compatriots Caty McNally, Sofia Kenin and Ann Li were also opening round winners on Monday.