Melbourne (AFP): Coco Gauff’s bid to become the youngest Australian Open champion since 1997 gathered pace Friday with a straight-sets victory over fellow American Bernarda Pera. The 18-year-old won 6-3, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena to set up a last-16 clash against the 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.
A maiden Grand Slam title for seventh seed Gauff would make her the youngest Melbourne champion since a 16-year-old Martina Hingis 26 years ago. Gauff headed into the first major of the year on a high after winning her third WTA title at the Auckland Classic earlier this month.
She admitted she “got lucky” in her tight second-round victory over Emma Raducanu in a battle of tennis prodigies. But Gauff let her racquet do the talking in her first meeting with power-hitter Pera, relentlessly soaking up some late pressure from the world number 41 when serving for the match at 5-2.