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Sofia soars to beat Coco in three

Sofia Kenin has ended Coco Gauff’s fairytale Australian Open run to advance to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

The No.14 seed recovered from the loss of a compelling first set to run away with a 6-7(5) 6-3 6-0 win over her fellow American, who simply could not match Kenin’s intensity or consistency as the match wore on.

MORE: AO2020 women’s draw

Kenin, who dropped her racquet to the court and wept after sealing victory, will next face Ons Jabeur – who beat Wang Qiang in her fourth-round match – in an attempt to go even deeper at Melbourne Park in what has become her breakout Grand Slam performance.

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26 Jan 20
Coco Gauff vs. Sofia Kenin - Match Highlights (R4) | Australian Open 2020

Kenin prevails in all-American affair

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“I’m just so speechless, I’m so happy,” said Kenin, whose previous best Slam result was a run to the fourth round at last year’s French Open.

“It was such a tough match. She had a great 2019. All respect to her, she played a great match. In the first set, she played some really good points at crucial moments.

“I just did the best I can, tried to take it like any other match. I tried to play my game, not focus on anything else.

“It means a lot – so happy to be through to the next round.”

Incredibly, Gauff, at just 15 years of age, was appearing in the fourth round of a major tournament for the second time, after reaching the same stage at Wimbledon last year.

After getting past an underdone Venus Williams in the opening round here and a curiously error-prone Naomi Osaka in a third-round boilover at Rod Laver Arena, many felt Kenin’s relentlessness and metronomic consistency would prove a far different, and possibly insurmountable, challenge.

Those people were proved right… eventually.

For in the first set, Gauff showcased her increasingly powerful, aggressive game, and was rewarded.

Trailing 4-2 after dropping serve in the opening game at Melbourne Arena, Gauff reeled her older countrywoman in, winning three straight games and energising the packed crowd.

She arrived at set point in the 12th game – which Kenin saved with a winner – but in the ensuing tiebreak Gauff played forehand winners either side of a drop-shot winner and a volley winner to take an early lead.

Gauff was now a set away from becoming the youngest Grand Slam quarterfinalist since Sesil Karatantcheva at the French Open 15 years earlier, and the youngest at Melbourne Park since a 15-year-old Martina Hingis advanced to the last eight in 1996.

But Kenin was anything but discouraged after the first set.

In fact, she became more energised, vocally urging herself on and bunkering down in rallies until either Gauff missed, or until Kenin found the right shot to attack and go for a winner.

This measured approach soon tipped the match in her favour. And as it unfolded, it become very one-sided.

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Coco Gauff reacts during her match with countrywoman Sofia Kenin

It began to unravel for the teenager in the fourth game of the second set, where three double faults helped Kenin break for a 3-1 lead.

The world No.15 would ultimately win 12 of the final 15 games, in that span committing just nine unforced errors while Gauff sprayed 27.

The win was a continuation of Kenin’s incredible form in the past 12 months; after beginning 2019 ranked No.56, she cracked the top 15 in October after winning three WTA titles.

In Jabeur, Kenin will face a player ranked 63 places lower at world No.78, and on Tuesday will sets her sights on a first Grand Slam semifinal when she returns to the court.

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Gutted Gauff proud of Australian Open run

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Kenin prevails in all-American affair

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