COCO GAUFF BID ENDS IN TEARS

Djokovic, Fed­erer in quar­ters; Ons Jabeur be­comes first Arab to reach last eight

Muscat Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

Melbourne, Aus­tralia - No­vak Djokovic and Roger Fed­erer swept into the Australian Open quar­ter-fi­nals but 15 year old Coco Gauff ex­ited in tears on Sun­day af­ter her quest to be­come the Open era’s youngest Grand Slam win­ner came screech­ing to a halt.

As Melbourne marked Aus­tralia Day with for­ma­tion jets and a 21-gun salute, world num­ber one Ash­leigh Barty had home fans cel­e­brat­ing be­fore crowd favourite Fed­erer dis­man­tled Mar­ton Fucso­vics in the night match.

Djokovic, hunt­ing his eighth Melbourne ti­tle, was re­morse­less against Ar­gentina’s Diego Schwartz­man, crush­ing the 14th seed 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to book an 11th appearance in the last eight.

The Serb’s re­ward is a match-up with big-serv­ing Cana­dian Mi­los Raonic, who is back in form af­ter a run of in­juries and dis­missed 2018 fi­nal­ist Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.

“I’ve got to be ready for mis­siles com­ing from his side of the net,” said Djokovic, the 16-time Grand Slam win­ner.

Gauff’s gi­ant-killing Australian de­but gen­er­ated hype dubbed ‘Co­co­ma­nia’ as she at­tempted to be­come the youngest Ma­jor win­ner in the post-1968 Open Era, break­ing the record set by a 16 year old Martina Hingis in 1997.

Gauff beat seven-time Grand Slam cham­pion Venus Williams in round one and ti­tle-holder Naomi Osaka in the third, but she came un­stuck against a de­ter­mined Sofia Kenin.

Arab first

Gauff raised hopes by edg­ing the first set but then her fel­low Amer­i­can took con­trol and it was one-sided at the fin­ish as Kenin won 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-0.

“The thing I’m most proud of my­self is how I han­dled it on the court,” said Gauff, who shed tears af­ter her de­feat. “Even though to­day I lost a set 6-0, I was still believ­ing I could win it.”

Kenin, al­ready on the best Grand Slam run of her ca­reer, next faces Tu­nisia’s Ons Jabeur, who beat China’s Wang Qiang to be­come the first Arab woman to reach a Ma­jor quar­ter-fi­nal.

Wang stunned Serena Williams in the third round but the 27th seed ran out of steam against Jabeur, who fought back from a break down in the first set to win 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.

Jabeur, the high­est-ranked Arab woman in his­tory - she reached a ca­reer-high 51 last year - is the first Tu­nisian woman to win a main-draw match at the Australian Open.

“I’m re­ally shak­ing right now, it’s un­be­liev­able, I can’t de­scribe how I feel,” said the 25 year old.

Aus­tralia’s Barty had some nervy mo­ments against Amer­i­can Ali­son Riske, drop­ping the sec­ond set and briefly los­ing her way be­fore re­cov­er­ing to win 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.

She now has an im­prov­ing chance of be­com­ing the first home-grown win­ner since Chris O’Neil in 1978 af­ter six of the top ten seeds ex­ited in the pre­vi­ous round.

“I just had to hang in there and try and give my­self a chance,” said Barty, who next plays Pe­tra Kvi­tova, af­ter the two-time Wim­ble­don cham­pion beat Maria Sakkari 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-2.

Later, Fed­erer sent rip­ples of con­ster­na­tion around Rod Laver Arena when he dropped the first set against Hun­gary’s Fucso­vics, the world num­ber 67.

But the 38 year old Swiss, pushed to a fifth-set tie-breaker by Aus­tralia’s John Mill­man on Fri­day, came alive in the sec­ond set as he rat­tled through the match 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

“It just took me some time, I tried to mix it up a bit and just had to fig­ure it out. From the be­gin­ning of the sec­ond set it got a lit­tle bit eas­ier,” Fed­erer said.

The 20-time Grand Slam cham­pion’s quar­ter-fi­nal is against un­seeded Amer­i­can Ten­nys Sand­gren, who up­set Ital­ian 12th seed Fabio Fognini in four tough sets, 7-6 (7/5), 75, 6-7 (2/7), 6-4.

No­vak Djokovic

Coco Gauff (left) and Sofia Kenin

Roger Fed­erer

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