MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Coco Gauff was within double the distance of being forced to a third-set by Emma Radukanu at the Australian Open, but she steadied herself and made it to the final on Wednesday. The first head-to-head meeting between the two young tennis stars was won 6-3, 7-6(4) in the Open.
“It’s a long-awaited matchup,” said the seventh-seeded Goff, who was runner-up to top-ranked Igaswatek at the French Open last June. “Essentially after the lottery came out.”
The 18-year-old from Florida made it to the third round at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2020. She is the youngest seeded player in the women’s field.
The 20-year-old Radukanu, who represents Great Britain, has not reached the second round at a major since winning the 2021 US Open as a teenager. This made her the first qualifier to win a major trophy.
Radukanu, currently ranked No. 77, has been dealing with an ankle injury. However, she came very close to extending the match, holding two set points while leading 5-4 in the second set.
At the first chance, Radukanu shot a long backhand. The second time, she threw an airdrop into the net.
That helped Goff keep the ball there. More mistakes by Radukanu tipped the tiebreaker — and the game — in favor of Gauff.
“I just told myself,” Goff said, “hang on.”
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