MELBOURNE: It made sense to Sofia Kenin that Coco Gauff would be the one getting all of the attention and generating all of the buzz. That’s only natural when Gauff is 15 and making tennis history time and time again.
“Yeah, I mean, the hype is for her. She’s obviously done great stuff, of course. It’s absolutely normal. Just [tried] not to let that get in my head,” Kenin said. “Of course, I didn’t do it for the hype. I did it for myself, because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.”
Well, Sofia, you did it. Now get ready for the spotlight to shine your way. Kenin stopped Gauff’s latest Grand Slam run by beating her 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-0 in the Australian Open’s fourth round on Sunday.
Like Gauff, Kenin is a young although, at 21, not quite as young American and she reached her first major quarter-final with the victory.
“I want to show who I am, show my best tennis, show why I’m there, why I belong,” the 14th-seeded Kenin said. “I’m doing that.”
In her previous match, the 67th-ranked Gauff beat Naomi Osaka to become the youngest player in the professional era to defeat the reigning women’s champion at the Australian Open. At Wimbledon last year, Gauff became the youngest qualifier ever at that tournament, beat Venus Williams in the first round and made it all the way to the fourth.
Entering Sunday, Gauff was 8-2 in Grand Slam action, with her only losses to women who have been ranked number one and own multiple major titles: Halep (at Wimbledon) and Osaka (at the US Open).
Hence the aforementioned hype.
“I couldn’t really write this,” said Gauff, who shed tears after her defeat. “I don’t think anybody could really write how this past [several] months have gone.”
She did not play as well as she has been this time, though, winding up with 48 unforced errors, more than twice as many as Kenin’s 22.
Kenin next faces Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who beat China’s Wang Qiang to become the first Arab woman to reach a Major quarter-final.
Wang stunned Serena Williams in the third round but the 27th seed ran out of steam against Jabeur, who fought back from a break down in the first set to win 7-6 (7-4), 6-1.
Also advancing to a quarterfinal showdown were world number one Ash Barty, trying to become the first Australian to win the nation’s Grand Slam tournament since the 1970s and last year’s runner-up in Melbourne, Petra Kvitova.
Reigning French Open champion Barty moved on with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 win against Alison Riske of the United States, who double-faulted on the last point.
Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, was down a set and a break before coming back to defeat Maria Sakkari 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-2.
On the men’s side, defending champion Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer swept into the quarter-finals.
Djokovic, hunting his eighth Melbourne title, was remorseless against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, crushing the 14th seed 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to book an 11th appearance in the last eight.
The Serb’s reward is a match-up with big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, who is back in form after a run of injuries and dismissed 2018 finalist Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.
Federer overcame a slow start to beat Marton Fucsovics 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 and will face unseeded American Tennys Sandgren, who upset Italian 12th seed Fabio Fognini in four tough sets, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4.
Results (prefix number denotes seeding):
Men’s singles (fourth round): 32-Milos Raonic (Canada) bt Marin Cilic (Croatia) 6-4, 6-3, 7-5; 2-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) bt 14-Diego Schwartzman (Argentina) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4; Tennys Sandgren (US) bt 12-Fabio Fognini (Italy) 7-6 (7-5), 7-5, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4; 3-Roger Federer (Switzerland) bt Marton Fucsovics (Hungary) 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.
Women’s singles (fourth round): 7-Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) bt 22-Maria Sakkari (Greece) 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-2; 14-Sofia Kenin (US) bt Coco Gauff (US) 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-0; Ons Jabeur (Tunisia) bt 27-Wang Qiang (China) 7-6 (7-4), 6-1; 1-Ashleigh Barty (Australia) bt 18-Alison Riske (US) 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.
Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2020