Simona Halep ends US teen Cori Gauff’s debut dream run

Former world number one Simona Halep has ended Cori Gauff’s dream run at Wimbledon by beating the 15-year-old American tennis player in the fourth round. 

Gauff is the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon’s main draw in the professional era Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

The seventh-seeded Romanian secured a convincing 6-3, 6-3 win in one hour 15 minutes over the Grand Slam debutant on Monday at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in London, advancing to the quarterfinals for the fourth time.

After stunning her idol and five-time champion Venus Williams in the first round and then saving two match points en route to beating Polona Hercog last week, Gauff was suddenly the hottest ticket in town.

But Halep, last year’s French Open champion and the first top-10 opponent Gauff had ever faced, was a step too far for the American teen.

The Romanian broke serve five times in the match to set up a quarterfinal clash against China’s Zhang Shuai.

“I’m happy I could play my best tennis. I’m not comparing myself with last year. Last year was the best because I won the French Open. I try to be a better person on court,” Halep told the BBC in a post-match interview.

Gauff was playing in her first Grand Slam tournament after becoming the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon’s main draw in the professional era.

Aged 15 years and 122 days, Gauff is the youngest entrant in the fourth round of a Grand Slam since Russian Anna Kournikova at the 1996 US Open.

Bidding to become the youngest Wimbledon quarterfinalist since fellow-15-year-old Jennifer Capriati in 1991, the Atlanta native was by no means overawed, keeping the crowd entertained with some crashing backhands and athletic recoveries, but there were also far too many simple errors that the American was never going to get away with at this stage of the tournament.

Halep, who had given an indication of her form when dismissing the dangerous Belarusian Victoria Azarenka in the last round, had to work hard before eventually taking a relatively even first set.

Gauff then started spraying her groundstrokes long in the second set as Halep found her own range.

Gauff did save two match points when serving at 5-2 down but this time it was only a temporary reprieve as Halep finished things off in the next game.

Nadal, Serena advance

Seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams also booked a spot in the quarterfinals for the 14th time after beating Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-2 on Monday.

Williams, 37, missed about a year of play while she had a baby in 2017 but returned to the tennis tour in 2018, entered the tournament without having played since the third round of the French Open – skipping the grass-court warm-up tournaments.

“I definitely haven’t had enough matches,” said Williams, who had been dealing with an injured left knee. “I have more matches this week than literally the past five months. So, yikes.”

She will next face fellow American Alison Riske, who upset top-ranked Ashleigh Barty earlier in the day.

On the men’s side, French Open champion Rafael Nadal eased past Portuguese Joao Sousa 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.

It was the two-time Wimbledon champion’s 52nd match win at the All England Club, surpassing Bjorn Borg for eighth place on the all-time list.

Fourth round results:

R Federer (SUI) 2 defeated M Berrettini (ITA) 17 6-1, 6-2, 6-2

N Djokovic (SRB) 1 defeated U Humbert (FRA) 6-3, 6-2, 6-3

K Nishikori (JPN) 8 defeated M Kukushkin (KAZ) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4

J Konta (GBR) 19 defeated P Kvitova (CZE) 4-6, 6-2, 6-4

G Pella (ARG) 26 defeated M Raonic (CAN) 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 8-6

R Nadal (ESP) 3 defeated J Sousa (POR) 6-2, 6-2, 6-2

S Williams (USA) 11 defeated C Suarez Navarro (ESP) 30 6-2, 6-2

S Halep (ROU) 7 defeated C Gauff (USA) 6-3, 6-3

A Riske (USA) defeated  A Barty (AUS) 1 3-6, 6-2, 6-3

K Muchova (CZE) defeated  Ka Pliskova (CZE) 3 4-6, 7-5, 13-11

E Svitolina (UKR) 8 defeated P Martic (CRO) 24  6-4, 6-2

D Goffin (BEL) 21 defeated  F Verdasco (ESP) 7-6(9), 2-6, 6-3, 6-4

B Strycova (CZE) defeated E Mertens (BEL) 21 4-6, 7-5, 6-2

S Zhang (CHN) defeated  D Yastremska (UKR)  6-4, 1-6, 6-2

R Bautista Agut (ESP) 23 defeated B Paire (FRA) 28 6-3, 7-5, 6-2

S Querrey (USA) defeated  T Sandgren (USA) 6-4, 6-7(7), 7-6(3), 7-6(5)

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