Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Gauff takes out No. 2 seed to reach Lexington quarters

Add Aryna Sabalenka to Coco Gauff's list of highly ranked victims.

Gauff, a 16-year-old U.S. sensation, topped Sabalenka, seeded second and ranked 11th, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-4 in a ragged match today to reach the quarterfinals of the Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky.

Gauff broke serve for 5-4 in the third set on a running forehand passing shot down the line in the first WTA tournament in North American in almost one year.

Both players broke serve seven times in the 2-hour, 48-minute battle. Sabalenka committed 14 double faults and Gauff 10 in their first career meeting.

Gauff already has wins over two top-10 players, No. 4 Naomi Osaka and No. 8 Kiki Bertens. Gauff won Linz (Austria) as a lucky loser last October for her first career title. 

Gauff will return to the top 50 on Monday, rising at least three spots to No. 50. She attained a career high of No. 49 in February after advancing to the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Sabalenka reached the final of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., last August, then won the U.S. Open doubles title with Elise Mertens of Belgium.

Gauff is scheduled to play Tunisia's Ons Jabeur, seeded eighth and ranked No. 39, for the first time Friday.

Jabeur, 25, lost the first four games to qualifier Olga Govortsova of Belarus but recovered to win 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Jabeur, only 5-foot-6 (1.67 meters), had 10 aces to none for the 6-foot (1.82-meter) Govortsova, who was playing a five-hour drive from her adopted hometown of Huntsville, Ala. 

Jabeur won the French Open girls singles title in 2011 and reached her first career Grand Slam quarterfinal in the Australian Open in January, ending former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki's career in the third round. 

Govortsova, a 31-year-old mother, was seeking her first WTA quarterfinal since 2014. She has plunged from a career-high No. 35 in 2008 to No. 135.

In the other quarterfinal in the bottom half of the draw, 49th-ranked Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic will meet 48th-ranked Jennifer Brady of Boca Raton, Fla., for the first time.

Bouzkova, who ousted third-seeded Johanna Konta of Great Britain in the first round, defeated Anna Blinkova of Russia 6-4, 6-2. Brady, a semifinalist as a qualifier at Dubai in February, bounced sixth-seeded Magda Linette of Poland 6-2, 6-3. 

The quarterfinals in the top half of the draw will be determined Thursday.

Top-seeded Serena Williams, 38, is set to face Venus Williams, 40, not before 9:30 a.m. PDT (Tennis Channel). Serena leads the head-to-head series 18-12 with nine wins in the last 11 encounters.

San Francisco Bay Area product CiCi Bellis will meet American Jessica Pegula, the daughter of Buffalo Bills and Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula, not before 11 a.m. In their only previous meeting, Pegula prevailed 6-0, 6-4 in the first round at Auckland in January en route to the final, in which she lost to Serena Williams 6-3, 6-4.

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