Australian Open 2020: Why we should be excited about Gauff v Osaka rematch
Charles Perrin explains why we the third round clash between Osaka and Gauff could be a classic...
The Australian Open is nearing the end of the first week and on Friday, the third round of the women's tournament will get under way. Coco Gauff will pit her wits against reigning champion Naomi Osaka. The clash represents a repeat of their previous meeting at the US Open last September where Osaka triumphed in straight sets.
Gauff had to show her fighting qualities against Sorana Cirstea on Wednesday to book her place in the last 32, while Osaka's progress was far more serene. This tie is arguably the standout match in the women's singles and one in which Gauff is likely to receive a lot of support from the Melbourne patrons.
Gauff's fan base has continued to surge and the phrase 'Cocomania' has gathered pace both on social media platforms and inside stadiums on the WTA circuit. The 15-year-old sensation wrote herself into the history books this week by becoming the first American woman in 30 years to reach at least the third round of the first three majors she has entered. Gauff has become box office and she has this steely nature about her. In her second-round win over Cirstea, she was forced to work hard for her win. Perhaps cause for concern was that she had more unforced errors fly off her racquet (39) than winners (30), but she is beginning to look more comfortable in a Grand Slam environment.
Currently, Gauff is trading at4.90 with the Betfair Exchange to knock out Osaka and she will have learned a few things from their clash at Flushing Meadows. Arguably, this tie will show what improvements the world No.67 has to make to get to the latter stages of Majors and compete with the elite.
Although she is already a two-time Grand Slam champion, there is still to a certain extent a mental fragility about Osaka. The 22-year-old has some powerful weapons, not least to mention her trademark forehand down the line as well as her double-handed backhand. Against Gauff at the US Open, Osaka's performance was impeccable as she was able to outthink her opponent and open up space to spray backhand winners. In Melbourne in her second round match against Zheng Saisai, Osaka had a mini wobble and threw her racquet on the floor before kicking it away in an act of petulance.
By her own admission, Osaka realises she needs to change her attitude. After her second round win, she said: "I couldn't control it, I think that's how I dealt with my frustration.
"It was a bit childish. I just want to play one match without throwing my racquet or kicking it. That's all I want."
Despite her histrionics, Osaka - who is ranked fourth in the world - is the second favourite at7.20 behind Serena Williams to win The Australian Open.
Gauff and Osaka are both still at a relatively early stage in their careers, but Gauff is certainly a star in the making. Having already been tipped by some pundits, including John McEnroe to be a future world No.1, Gauff is learning a lot about herself. Before the Australian Open began, Osaka claimed she didn't feel like she was a top player. The women's game is at a very exciting stage and while Gauff's rematch against Osaka has all the ingredients to be a classic, the fans would no doubt like to see Gauff's adventure continue.