Two of tennis’ most exciting young players, Coco Gauff and Emma Raducanu, will face off in the Australian Open second round after they both won their opening matches on Monday.
The 18-year-old Gauff comfortably beat the Czech Republic’s Katerina Siniaková, winning in straight sets 6-1 6-4.
Elsewhere, Raducanu allayed some of her injury worries with her own straight sets victory over Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch, winning 6-3 6-2.
The 2021 US Open champion twisted her ankle almost two weeks ago in Auckland as she left the court in tears.
After a tough few years, Raducanu is seeded No. 77 but produced a confident display in Melbourne to set up the tantalizing clash with Gauff.
Following her own victory, Gauff acknowledged the pressure Raducanu has had to face ever since winning her first grand slam as an 18-year-old.
“Obviously, she’s gone through a lot of pressure, bursting on to the scene, I feel like probably more than I have experienced coming to win a slam,” Gauff told reporters.
“And especially I feel like being from the UK, being like the first British person to do something in a long time, probably is a lot more pressure than what I’m used to being an American.
“You know, Serena (Williams) is retired now, but she was always the American that people looked to.”
Gauff herself has faced immense pressure, becoming a household name as a 15-year-old with impressive performances at Wimbledon and the US Open.
But the No. 7 seed showed no signs of nerves in her victory over Siniaková, winning her first set on the Rod Laver Arena court in just 22 minutes.
It looked as if Siniaková might take the game to the third set as she broke Gauff to take a 4-2 lead, but the American was able to recover before eventually sealing the impressive victory.
Gauff finished with 24 winners to 18 unforced errors and won over 70% of her service points on the day.
“Really pleased with myself,” Gauff said. “Katerina is a fighter I knew she was going to fight until the last point and she proved that today. I’m glad I stayed mentally right there.”
The 20-year-old Raducanu needed an hour and 25 minutes to beat Korpatsch, who is ranked one position higher than the British No. 1 in the world standings.
Raducanu had 27 winners compared to Korpatsch’s 10 in the match, as her groundstrokes propelled her to victory.
“I think that my forehand is a real weapon of mine,” Raducanu told reporters after her win.
“It’s going to take some fine-tuning, but going forward I really see myself loving that side and I really do. I think just at the moment I’m swinging more freely in general, and yeah, it probably shows in my forehand maybe.”