US Open: Coco Gauff sets up thrilling third-round encounter with Madison Keys

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Coco Gauff defeated Elena-Gabriela Ruse 6-2 7-6 (7-4) in the second round of the US Open to set up a thrilling encounter with Madison Keys on Friday.

Gauff, who is the second-youngest player left in the women’s draw, came through some difficult times on court against Ruse to ensure her safe progression.

The 18-year-old hit back from 5-3 down in the second set to reach the third round and claim her second consecutive win inside the 23,771-capacity main stadium at Flushing Meadows.

Gauff struggled on serve during the encounter, producing eight double faults, but was able to remain calm during the critical points.

Ruse served for the second set and went 40-15 up in that game, before Gauff showed her class and outlasted her opponent during a vital 22-shot rally.

On Wednesday, Keys’ second-round match was a nerve-jangler and she eventually beat Camili Giorgi 6-4 5-7 7-6 (10-6) inside the Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Giorgi served for the match while leading 5-2 in the third set, but could not close it out and committed a flurry of errors in the tie-break. Giorgi converted just four of her 16 break point opportunities, while 20th seed Keys struck eight aces and 30 winners.

“I was just telling myself to keep my legs moving, swing at the ball and not overthink things,” Keys said. “Just rely on my athleticism and luckily I got this win.”

Keys and Gauff have met just once previously on the WTA Tour in the semi-finals in Adelaide. On that occasion, Keys prevailed 7-5 in the decider.

Image: Maria Sakkari was a semi-finalist at the 2021 US Open

Elsewhere in the draw, Greek third seed Maria Sakkari crashed out following a 3-6 7-5 7-5 defeat by China’s Xiyu Wang.

Sakkari is the third top-10 player in the women’s draw to be knocked out after Simona Halep and Daria Kasatkina.

“It’s disappointing, it hurts, because I was feeling better,” Sakkari said. “I was enjoying myself, feeling good on the court and it was just very disappointing that my level was that low today.”

The victory for Wang marks her first career win over a top-10 player, but she is a former junior No 1 and was the girls’ US Open champion in 2018.

Ons Jabeur, the Tunisian fifth seed, defeated American wildcard Elisabeth Mandlik, the daughter of 1985 champion Hana Mandlikova, 7-5 6-2 to move into the third round.

Jabeur will now play American Shelby Rogers, the 31st seed, who beat Viktoria Kuzmova 7-5 6-1.

Alison Riske-Amritraj and Camila Osorio played a marathon encounter, with Riske-Amritraj eventually coming out on top 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (10-5) after three hours and 10 minutes.

The two players hit a staggering 130 unforced errors combined, with Riske-Amritraj somehow overcoming her tally of 71 to prevail on her fifth match point.

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