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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, September 2, 2022


"I just told myself I'm gonna go down swinging; last time I got a little too passive and she was overpowering me," Coco Gauff said of her third-round sweep of Madison Keys.

Photo credit: Elsa/Getty

Arthur Ashe Stadium has long been a proving ground for Coco Gauff.

On the game's biggest Grand Slam stage, a growing Gauff confirmed her status as a US Open title contender.

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The 18-year-old Gauff dismissed 2017 US Open finalist Madison Keys 6-2, 6-3 to charge into the US Open fourth round for the first time. Gauff has not dropped a set in three tournament wins raising her 2022 record to 33-16.

In an all-American showed, Gauff avenged a 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 loss to Keys in the Adelaide semifinals last January by giving herself permission to go for it.

"I just told myself I'm gonna go down swinging becuase last time I got a little too passive and she was overpowering me," Gauff told ESPN's Mary Joe Fernandez afterward. "I knew eventually the shots would go my way because I've been practicing really hard on them."

Indeed, Gauff converted five of nine break points and committed just 14 unforced errors in 17 games, eight fewer than Cincinnati semifinalist Keys.

It's a milestone win for Gauff, who recalled the thrill of watching Venus Williams play a US Open match five years ago today from court-side seats.

Today, Gauff went one better winning on Arthur Ashe Stadium and moving into a fourth-round showdown vs. Zhang Shuai.

Facing one of the game's biggest hitters, Gauff player higher-percentage tennis and showed her own jolting power pounding several serves faster than 115 mph.

"I was trying to impress to my friends that I got court-side seats," Gauff said of her 2017 visit to Flushing Meadows as a fan. "Now I'm on the court."

Gauff's greater shot-tolerance level and her ability to extend points was on display early.

The big-hitting Keys ballooned a couple of forehands beyond the baseline as Gauff gained her second straight break for 3-1.

Bolting a 119 mph body serve into the hip, Gauff erased a break point then banged a 114 mph missile down the middle to back up the break for 4-1.

Tennis Express

The 20th-seeded Keys complicated matters, sometimes trying to squeeze low-percentage drives down the line and finding the net inside. Gauff played a cleaner opening set from start to finish.

Gauff's guile paid off on her third set point. Gauff flcked a lob over Keys' head putting her compatriot in chase made as she scored her second break to take the 35-minute opening set.

The Roland Garros runner-up tracked almost everything down and kept the ball deep in the court giving Keys every opportunity to hit herself into oblivion.

Fifty-four minutes into the match, Keys sailed another forehand beyond the baseline and Gauff grabbed the break and 3-1 lead.

Working the corners with her crosscourt drives, Gauff consolidated the break at 15 for 41.

Keys came right back zapping an ace to help her hold then encouraging errors from Gauff. Down break point, Gauff decelerated on a second serve hitting it into net. That double fault gave Keys the break and put her back on serve at 3-4.

Throughout the match, Gauff leaned on her two-hander crosscourt picking on Keys' weaker wing. The teenager torched a backhand winner down the line and exploited a couple of Keys errors breaking back for 5-3.

An ace out wide brought Gauff match point. Keys missed a forehand reutrn as Gauff sealed her first trip to the US Open round of 16 in 72 minutes.


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