Osaka ends Gauff’s run in third round

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Sports - BY HOWARD FENDRICH

Amer­i­can teenager Coco Gauff’s sec­ond Grand Slam tour­na­ment has ended with a 6-3, 6-0 loss to de­fend­ing cham­pion Naomi Osaka in the third round of the U.S. Open.

The 15-year-old Gauff has gen­er­ated all sorts of at­ten­tion al­ready by mak­ing it to the sec­ond week at Wim­ble­don in July and be­com­ing the youngest woman to win two matches at Flush­ing Mead­ows since 1996.

But in this much-hyped match un­der the lights in Arthur Ashe Sta­dium against the top-seeded Osaka, Gauff of­ten looked ex­actly like what she still is: an im­mensely tal­ented player who is still learn­ing her way at ten­nis’ top level.

She served at up to 119 mph but also dou­ble-faulted seven times.

She over­came a slow start to get within 4-3 in the open­ing set but also then lost the last eight games.

Osaka’s ad­van­tages in age – she’s 21 – and ex­pe­ri­ence – she is a two-time ma­jor cham­pion – played a role. As did her on­tar­get power, which re­sulted in a 24-8 edge in win­ners.

TOWNSEND KEEPS GO­ING

Amer­i­can qual­i­fier Tay­lor Townsend stunned reign­ing Wim­ble­don cham­pion Si­mona Halep on Thurs­day by rush­ing to the net 106 times. On Satur­day, there was no rea­son to change what was work­ing.

Townsend, ranked 116th, came to the net 75 times in her 7-5, 6-2 win over So­rana Cirstea in Louis Arm­strong Sta­dium, in­clud­ing 53 times on serve-and-vol­ley points. She reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam tour­na­ment for the first time.

In her on-court in­ter­view af­ter the match, Townsend said she had been sur­prised to learn how many people had her phone num­ber, based on the con­grat­u­la­tions she re­ceived on her win over Halep, but had worked to main­tain her fo­cus.

“I just tried to keep my head on straight,” Townsend, 23, said. “My coach and I talked about strat­egy, and just con­tin­u­ing what I did from the last round, and just try­ing to get bet­ter.”

Part of stick­ing with a strat­egy of serve-and­vol­ley, Townsend knew, was learn­ing to ac­cept that Cirstea’s pow­er­ful pass­ing shots would of­ten go zip­ping past her, a feel­ing that can dis­cour­age play­ers from con­tin­u­ing to ven­ture for­ward, par­tic­u­larly on the most pres­sure-packed points.

“I got passed a lot, but I made a lot as well,” Townsend said. “So I have to con­tinue to do that.”

Cirstea, ranked 106th, at­trib­uted her loss less to Townsend’s un­usual tactics, which she was pre­pared for, and more to fail­ing to cap­i­tal­ize on op­por­tu­ni­ties, such as a 3-1 lead she held in the first set.

“She has a unique game: This is the beauty of ten­nis,” Cirstea said. “You have to adapt very quick. I think to­day I started well, I was able to ex­e­cute what I worked on yes­ter­day, and the plan I had with the coach.”

Af­ter beat­ing two Romanian play­ers in a row, Townsend will face a third player with Romanian roots in the fourth round: Bianca An­dreescu.

ADAM HUNGER AP

Coco Gauff, right, wipes away tears Satur­day while talk­ing to Naomi Osaka af­ter Osaka de­feated Gauff at the U.S. Open in New York.

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