American teenager Coco Gauff reached the second round of the Western & Southern Open after dispatching veteran Hsieh Su-wei of Chinese Taipei 6-1, 6-2, to set up a blockbuster showdown with No. 2 seed Naomi Osaka here on Wednesday.
World No. 14 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who won the title when the event was played in New York last season, got past big-hitting Russian Liudmila Samsonova, 6-2, 6-3, in their first-round battle.
In their first meeting, 17-year-old Gauff fended off the challenge of 35-year-old Hsieh to claim a spot in the second round of the event for the first time in her career, after exactly an hour of play.
“I think I did well just focusing on my side of the court,” Gauff said after her win. “She hits a crazy shot, and trying to not let that get into my head, because she’s talented and she will hit great shots.”
It will be a all-star clash as Gauff will take on Osaka next. They will be facing off for the third time, with each of their meetings taking place at a top hard court event. Osaka defeated Gauff in the third round of the 2019 US Open, but Gauff got revenge at the Australian Open.
“I definitely did learn a lot from both matches (against Naomi), actually. The second match, I learnt that I can perform well under the pressure, and that I do have a lot more fun on the court when I try not to focus on the expectations of other people and myself, whereas I didn’t really find that I guess balance until that Australian Open match,” said Gauff.
Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan ousted former US Open champion Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-3, 6-3, to reach the second round. Three-time Western & Southern Open runner-up Simona Halep overcame injury, rain and an impressive Magda Linette of Poland to seal her first win since May, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
The No. 12 seed had been sidelined for three months after sustaining a calf muscle tear.