NEW YORK (Reuters) - Teen sensation Cori “Coco” Gauff lived up to the hype surrounding her U.S. Open debut on Tuesday, battling back to beat Anastasia Potapova 3-6 6-2 6-4 in a back-and-forth thriller.
The outlook appeared bleak for the 15-year-old American when she was broken to open the second set but Gauff broke back in the next game to seize the momentum and ultimately level up the contest in front of a supportive crowd.
But hard-hitting 18-year-old Potapova, despite needing medical attention to her shoulder, refused to go down without a fight and Gauff had to earn her place in the second round.
Asked how she turned the match around, wildcard Gauff pointed to the fans inside Louis Armstrong Stadium.
“Honestly it’s because of the crowd,” she said. “You guys were amazing. No matter where I was on the court I could hear somebody supporting me and I’m really grateful for that.”
Gauff also had words of praise for her opponent, who battled hard in the third set.
“I was trying to really dig deep. I was like, ‘You got to make her play. She’s not going to hand it to you,” said Gauff.
“I really don’t remember the match too well because everything is still a blur. But I do remember I think that four-all game, it was just like a lot of battling.”
Gauff entered this year’s tournament amid high expectations after reaching the last 16 at Wimbledon earlier this year.
She next faces 26-year-old Timea Babos of Hungary in the second round at Flushing Meadows.
Reporting By Amy Tennery; additional reporting by Rory Carroll, editing by Nick Mulvenney/Peter Rutherford