Gauff hangs tough to reach Wimbledon second round

3 minute read

Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - June 28, 2022 Coco Gauff of the U.S. in action during her first round match against Romania's Elena-Gabriela Ruse REUTERS/Matthew Childs

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LONDON, June 28 (Reuters) - Coco Gauff made sure she was not thrown off course by the noisy racket created by Nick Kyrgios in a nearby court or by the fact she managed to convert only four of 25 break points as she reached the Wimbledon second round on Tuesday.

With Australian hot-head Kyrgios up to his usual antics, yelling at the umpire and involved in heated exchanges with other officials during his first-round match, the commotion from Court Three might have distracted Gauff as she lost the opening seven points to Elena-Gabriela Ruse.

But despite the inauspicious start, and her growing frustration in failing to convert so many break points, the 11th seed hung tough for 2-1/2 hours to seal a place in round two with a 2-6 6-3 7-5 win over the little-known Romanian.

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"Both of us gave our heart on court today," a beaming Gauff told the crowd after celebrating her win by thumping her chest with a clenched fist.

"Court Two is a really, really nice court and I like that it's intimate as you can hear every gasp and every cheer and I like that.

"First round is always tough for me as it's the most nerve racking... but if I lose I know it's not the end of the world."

The 18-year-old American is the youngest player in the singles draw and after her runner-up finish at the French Open this month, many are tipping her to go all the way at the All England Club.

However, when she lost the opening seven points against Ruse, including surrendering her serve to love, her father and coach Corey could be seen frowning on a sun-soaked Court Two.

When Gauff went on to earn and lose four break points in Ruse's opening service game, it set the tone for a frustrating afternoon for her family.

The popular teenager, who captured the world's attention when she made it to the Wimbledon fourth round as a 15-year-old school girl in 2019, finally got a foothold in the match when she broke for a 4-2 lead in the second set before levelling at one set all.

The 24-year-old Ruse fought back from 3-1 down in the final set to level at 3-3 but Gauff clung on despite continuing to misfire on break points.

She needed six of them to break Ruse's resolve in the 11th game of the decider and secured victory when her opponent whipped a forehand wide.

She will next face Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu.

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Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ed Osmond

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