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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday January 24, 2020

Coco Gauff

According to experts like Martina Navratilova, marked improvements in Coco Gauff's game have led to more jaw-dropping results.

Photo Source: Mark Peterson / Corleve

Everybody is coming away impressed by Coco Gauff’s upset victory over Naomi Osaka on Day 5 in Melbourne. It was a victory that took pundits and players alike by surprise, as Gauff stepped up the aggression and really took it to the defending champ, almost stunning her into submission on Rod Laver Arena.

Rarely does a 15-year-old make such a strong impression on the sport. We have to go back to 1991 to find the last time a player Gauff's age upended a Top 5 talent. Gauff also became the first 15-year-old to reach the second week of a major twice since Martina Hingis in 1996.

18-time major champion Martina Navratilova couldn’t help but be impressed.

Tennis Express

“Coco Gauff is growing in stature and ability every single day,” Navratilova said from her desk on the Tennis Channel set. “This is a different player, she served much better and bigger, she won the majority of her second-set points.”

Gauff won over 60 percent of her second serve points, as she also did in her first-round match against Venus Williams. She has prioritized that shot over the winter. But she also appears quicker, stronger, and in general more able to play points on her terms rather than in a reactionary state.

“Osaka just couldn’t put the ball away against a speedy Coco Gauff who just knows where she is on the court—the poise of the 15-year-old, it’s off the charts," Navratilova added.

Osaka herself noticed the difference in Gauff’s game: “[She is] more aggressive,” the two-time Slam champ said after her loss to the American. “Her serve is way better than when I played her last year. We both saw that she was hitting serves faster than US Open, of course. So that was a really important thing. Just I think we both knew she was going to play more aggressive. I just didn't know to, like, what degree.”

Lindsay Davenport opened her Tennis Channel broadcast with more positive talk about the 15-year-old sensation.

“It was amazing to see the difference in Gauff in just about four short months from her performance at the US Open to here in Australia,” Davenport said. “Ever since she has taken the court here in Melbourne there has just been something a little bit different about that look in her eye. She was so excited last summer when we saw her at Wimbledon and the US Open, she has come here to Australia to do business.”

Davenport came away impressed with Gauff’s attitude and said her serious approach to her third major tournament is one of the things that has impressed her the most.

“She believes,” Davenport said. “It’s not fun and games for her anymore. You can see how she approached the match especially at the US Open. There were no nerves that we saw at the US Open, she came out and was much more aggressive, and Osaka was the player that looked frightened out there.”

Gauff will face fellow American Sofia Kenin for a shot at her first major quarterfinal on Day 7 in Melbourne. Win or lose the American will come away with a lot of valuable experience from her latest foray deep into a Grand Slam draw. She improved her overall record at the majors to 8-2 with Friday's win.

Tennis Express

Davenport is impressed by how quickly she's been able to address holes in her game.

“After the US Open there were a few talks about ‘Okay maybe she needs to work a bit on her second serve and maybe she needs to work on handling pace on the forehand side,’” Davenport said. “It looks like she has gone to work on those two shots. The serve won her a lot of free points against Osaka and most impressive to me was the fact that the pace of Osaka did not faze Gauff at all, she was able to stay on the baseline, hang in points and eventually turn a lot of those rallies.”


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