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15-Year-Old Coco Gauff comes from behind in first U.S. Open match to advance at a second straight major


Down 5-1 in the first set of her opening round match at the U.S. Open, 15-year-old Coco Gauff looked completely overwhelmed against 18-year-old Anastasia Potapova and seemed destined to lose in a rout. But it turns out, she was just getting acclimated.

Gauff lost that first set, and was broken in the first game of the second set, but found her stride in time to claim a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Gauff, who made a run into the third round of Wimbledon in June, was given a wild-card invite to Flushing Meadows. That decision was justified by her win under the lights on Tuesday.

Coco Gauff came back from a set down to win her first-round match against Anastasia Potapova on Tuesday. (Tim Clayton - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Gauff and Potapova were happy to trade big forehands from the baseline through the night, engaging in a number of extended rallies. But after being broken at 1-0 in the second set, it was all Gauff as she went on to claim the second set in casual fashion.

After working to get back in the match, Gauff was immediately broken in the first game of the third set. But she broke back in the next game, and then took the next three before Potapova called for the trainer down 4-1.

Whatever treatment Potapova needed on her right arm seemed to remedy whatever had been stifling her play the previous set and a half, as she returned to the court and claimed the next two games with relative ease — neither went to deuce.

At 4-3 with the game level at 30-30, Gauff and Potapova exchanged punishing shots until Gauff connected ona big cross-court forehand to earn herself a break point. But Gauff couldn’t convert and Potapova went on to win the game and bring the match level once again.

But from there, Gauff regrouped and maintained the form that had carried her through the match. With two match points at 5-4, Gauff watched Potapova’s shot sail wide, confirming her spot in the second round.

The match, which ran a shade over two hours, was less defined by spectacular shot making, and more by the unforced errors: Gauff and Potapova each had more than 40 unforced errors and fewer than 20 winners over three sets.

But the only thing people will remember is that Gauff made it through to the next round, where she will play Hungarian qualifier Timea Babos. In the event that she emerges unscathed from that, she could potentially face Naomi Osaka in the third round.