Cori Gauff marches on, boldly and assertively, venturing into uncharted territory as tennis’s latest rising star. After her exploits against Venus Williams, the 15-year-old took it up another gear here at the Wimbledon Championships in blowing away Magdalena Rybarikova in straight sets.
It was a masterclass display from the American, whose explosive power, intelligent shot-making and relentless will to win consigned an opponent 15 years her senior to a 6-3 6-3 defeat in one hour and nine minutes.
An experienced grass-court player, Rybarikova looked to deploy a variety of creative shots – angled forehands, cushioned drop shots, serve-and-volleys – in an attempt to out smart the teenager. But it was ultimately in vain.
Riding a wave of confidence from the off, Gauff had an answer to nearly every one of her opponent’s questions. It was a complete performance from the youngster and one that reaffirms her status as one of the game’s most exciting prospects.
“I’m still shocked I am even here,” the youngster said afterwards. “I played well on pressure points, she was serving amazing. I’ve not been able to relax, there is so much going on.
“I believe I can beat anyone across the court.”
Gauff has a real presence on the court, projecting a confidence and composure not usually attributed to a teenager making her first appearance at the most prestigious Grand Slam in tennis. Her focus was ice cold, her energy red hot.
In the fourth game of the opening set, with the match at 2-2, Gauff bolted to meet a drop shot from her opponent and returned a whipped, cross-court forehand that landed squarely on the sideline, well out of reach of Rybarikova. It was a moment which showcased her raw athleticism, as well as her intelligence and reading of the game.
Having confidently held her first three serves, Gauff eventually got her break in the sixth game after Rybarikova netted a simple backhand. Once the momentum had swung in Gauff’s favour, it proved near-impossible for the 30-year-old to disrupt and derail her opponent.
At 5-2, the Czech held serve but there was no doubting the outcome of the next game. Two thumping winners, complimented by a fusillade of stinging first serves, were the highlights as Gauff clinched the first set with just 29 minutes on the clock.
Gauff started the second in a similar fashion, securing a first break in only the third game. By this point, Rybarikova’s resistance was handing by a thread. The American was simply too quick, too strong, too perceptive. It felt like a matter of time before the inevitable materialised.
The Czech would later rally at 40-15 down on her own serve – saving two points as she utilised her service to devastating effect – to deny Gauff a second break. But it mattered for little.
The break soon followed and with it, another remarkable win for the most remarkable of teenage talents.
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