Cori Gauff reaches Wimbledon fourth round with comeback win against Polona Hercog
Teenage sensation to face Simona Halep in fourth round at Wimbledon on Grand Slam debut
By Mathieu Wood at Wimbledon
Last Updated: 06/07/19 11:53am
Fifteen-year-old American qualifier Cori Gauff displayed remarkable resolve to save two match points as she mounted a memorable comeback to defeat Polona Hercog and reach the fourth round at Wimbledon.
The teenage sensation fought back from the brink of defeat against the world No 60 from Slovenia to win a captivating encounter 3-6 7-6 (9-7) 7-5 after two hours and 45 minutes of drama on her Centre Court debut.
Gauff responded to the loss of her first set at this year's championships and a seven-game losing streak at one stage in the match and will now aim to continue her heroics against former world No 1 Simona Halep on Monday.
Both players made a tentative start as nerves showed in the pair's biggest match of their respective careers, before Gauff was broken in consecutive service games as she lost four games in a row from 3-2 to lose the first set.
World No 60 Hercog, who defeated Madison Keys in the second round for her first top-20 win since 2015, managed to overpower her opponent and use her greater experience to quieten the crowd, who have been captured by Gauff's progress.
Hercog appeared in complete control and on the verge of a routine victory, leading 5-2 in the second set but she squandered a match point at 5-2 and 5-3, with a double fault, as Gauff belied her age to show great resolve and force a tiebreak.
As the match reached a crescendo, Gauff found a mixture of composure and belief to force a third set as she stole the second set on her third set point at the end of a dramatic tiebreak.
Gauff maintained her momentum as she played near flawless tennis to break Hercog, who received treatment on her back at the end of the second set, in the fourth game of the decider before showing signs of tension as she was broken comfortably three games later.
But her dip in focus did not last long as she held serve to love in consecutive games before completing a staggering victory with a third break of Hercog's serve, resulting in rapturous applause from an enthralled crowd.
Earlier on Centre Court, Halep comfortably defeated fellow former world number No 1 Victoria Azarenka in a match where the Belarussian imploded.
The two-time Grand Slam champion was leading 3-1 in the first set, but then lost 11 of the next 12 games as she hit 33 unforced errors in a comprehensive 6-3 6-1 defeat.
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