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Emma Navarro turfs out Gauff from Wimbledon following all-American duel

Navarro broke back in the very next game after Gauff drilled a backhand long to end a 13-shot rally and once the world number two missed two break points in the next game, there was no stopping Navarro.
Last Updated : 08 July 2024, 03:12 IST

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London: Nothing, absolutely nothing, worked for Coco Gauff on Sunday.

The killer shots and the champion's mentality Gauff had meticulously curated during her run to a maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open last year all went AWOL as her hopes of reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time were brutally ended with a 6-4, 6-3 mauling by Emma Navarro.

When the draw put second seed Gauff on a fourth-round collision course with fellow American Navarro, it almost seemed like a foregone conclusion which player would emerge triumphant.

After all Gauff had destroyed the opposition to reach the last 16 at the All England Club without dropping a set.

She was also the only player - man or woman - to make the semi-finals or better at the last three slams.

But all of that amounted to absolutely zilch on Sunday as Gauff resembled a lost soul on Centre Court and the torment running through her mind was clear for all to see when she shouted at her coach Brad Gilbert: "Tell me something. You guys aren’t saying anything."

With Gauff having admitted that she had found herself in "a dark place" following her shock first round exit here 12 months ago, Gilbert stood up in the player's box and tried to calm down the world number two with some hand gestures and words of wisdom but with Navarro's game on fire, nothing made a difference.

"We had a game plan going in. I felt that it wasn't working. I don't always ask for advice on the box. Today was one of those rare moments where I felt I didn't have solutions," summed up a glum Gauff.

"I definitely have to learn from today because it's not going to be the first or last time that a player plays a great match against me, and I have to figure out when those moments happen how to raise my level."

Fearless Tennis

The early exchanges between the two Americans under a closed Centre Court roof gave little indication of the drama that would follow.

Gauff appeared to be heading for another regulation win when she broke for a 3-1 lead in the first set.

But playing an opponent who kept believing and kept producing a fearless brand of tennis, it seemed like Gauff had lost control of her racket as the winners dried up and errors piled up.

Navarro broke back in the very next game after Gauff drilled a backhand long to end a 13-shot rally and once the world number two missed two break points in the next game, there was no stopping Navarro.

A breathtaking forehand into the corner handed Navarro the first set and after breaking for a 3-1 lead in the second, thanks to yet another Gauff double fault followed by a forehand error - there seemed no way back for the second seed.

Desperately searching for an escape route, an anguished Gauff kept ranting at her box. Rather than getting distracted by the noise and commotion going on across the net, Navarro knew she had got under her rival's skin.

As Navarro edged towards securing a quarter-final spot in a major for the first time, it was her father Ben, a billionaire tycoon, who struggled to contain his jitters and kept burying his face in his arms.

His daughter, however, never lost sight of the finishing line and after failing to convert her first two match points, she finally ended Gauff's ordeal on her third when her opponent dumped a forehand into the net.

"I don't normally give the other side of the court too much energy. I keep it on my side of the court. Seeing her kind of frustrated and looking at her box, putting her arms up in the air, it's definitely a little bit of a confidence boost," said Navarro, who had also dispatched four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka in the second round.

"Knowing that your game plan is doing what you wanted it to do. It maybe gave me a little bit of momentum and just some energy that I needed."

She will next face Italian Jasmine Paolini, who is the highest seed left in the bottom half of the draw at seven.

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Published 08 July 2024, 03:12 IST

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