Coco GAUFF averts disaster, hard-fought victory over Jaqueline CRISTIAN to advance at Rome Open

Saturday, 11 May 2024 at 21:32
Coco Gauff narrowly avoids an inconsistent performance to reach the Round of 16 in the WTA 1000 Rome Open after defeating Jaqueline Cristian 6-1, 0-6, 6-3. The Romanian entered the main draw as a lucky loser directly into the second round following the withdrawal of the 25th seed Barbora Krejcikova.
In the first set, the match followed the script: Coco dominated from the start despite errors from both sides. The American demonstrated her efficiency in crucial points and her authority to control the match even though she wasn't at her best.
Gauff struggled with her serve, managing only a 53% first-serve percentage and committing 5 double faults in the set, but she managed to win key points with her serve, in addition to saving several break points against her. Gauff secured two consecutive breaks and efficiently held her serve to quickly take a 5-0 lead. Although she had some opportunities to score a bagel, Cristian saved only one service game before Gauff claimed the first set 6-1.
The second set saw a complete turnaround as Gauff made error after error while her opponent raised her level. Cristian had good passages of play that allowed her to secure three consecutive breaks and now, with confidence in her own service, she overwhelmed Gauff in the second set.
Nevertheless, the 2023 US Open champion maintained her usual fighting spirit and sought aggressiveness to turn things around, but everything favored Cristian. Gauff had only a 38% service points won and 29% on the return, in a forgettable set that ended 6-0 in favor of the Romanian.
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Gauff has reached 15 WTA 1000 clay victories, making her the only one to achieve this before turning 21, surpassing Caroline Wozniacki (14).
The uncertainty was set in the third set as both began by holding their first service game. The first break came in the third game in favor of Gauff, who gained renewed confidence by seizing the momentum and held onto the lead for the rest of the set. Despite constant unforced errors and playing below her usual level, the American ultimately seized control of the match and secured the victory 6-1, 0-6, 6-3.
In the fourth round, the opponent will be Spanish player Paula Badosa. The 26-year-old has faced several injuries in the past year and is currently ranked world No. 126, but she leads the head-to-head against Gauff 3-1, in addition to winning their only clay court encounter a year ago at the Madrid Open with a convincing 6-3, 6-0.

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