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Coco Gauff impresses in straight-sets win over Emma Raducanu

Teenage sensation Coco Gauff has roared into the Australian Open third round on Wednesday.

Teenage sensation Coco Gauff has roared into the Australian Open third round on Wednesday. Photo: AAP

Coco Gauff has laid down her marker as an Australian Open contender with a straight-sets second-round win over grand slam title graduate Emma Raducanu.

The 18-year-old American, last year’s Roland Garros runner-up, impressed with her grit and composure as she saved two set points in the second set against the 2021 US Open champion in an entertaining 6-3 6-6 (7-4) victory.

Seventh-seeded Gauff is brimming with confidence after claiming silverware at the ASB Classic in Auckland and Wednesday night’s clash was an important test as she eyes a grand slam breakthrough.

“I just told myself to hang in there,” Gauff said.

“Emma was playing really good tennis towards the end of the match and honestly the whole match was great

“We both started off rocky but I think the match was a good quality for the most part.

“Considering the circumstances, I can imagine both of us were nervous – this was a long-anticipated match-up basically since the draw came out.

“At grand slams, you have to win seven matches and when you go into the tournament you have to expect to play the best.

“Obviously you hope it’s not in the second round but what can you do? I’m glad both of us were able to handle the pressure pretty well.”

The teenage ace will next play either 29th seed Zheng Qingwen or fellow American Bernarda Pera.

Gauff claimed the first set then had a break and led 2-1 in the second and looked set to cruise to victory, while Raducanu was consistently grimacing and reaching for her abdomen.

But Raducanu suddenly kicked into gear.

The 20-year-old Brit had two set points when receiving at 5-4 but spurned both, including hitting an attempted drop shot into the net for her second.

She would rue her inefficiency as Gauff quickly seized control in the tiebreak, racing away to four match points and converting her third.

The second-round exit compounds a tough start to Raducanu’s season after she had to retire with an ankle injury in Auckland.

-AAP

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