The teenager from Florida has already shown her superb shot selection and electric movement around the court this last week at the All England Club.
On Friday night though the girl from Florida was all sheer courage and an indomitable refusal to be beaten – as she saved two match points to come back from the very brink of defeat to beat Slovenian Polona Hercog 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 and surge into the fourth round.
The 15 year old who had already caused a sensation at the All England Club this year by ousting former champion Venus Williams and then knocking out Magdalena Rybarikova, was staring oblivion in the face in this match against the experienced Hercog, 28, in her ninth Wimbledon and ranked 60th in the world, who had looked in no mood to be outshone by a 15 year old.
The American, so confident in her strokes in the first two matches, was a shadow of her previous self early on, tentative and hesitant.
In the seventh game she was broken, Hercog sending a superb forehand down the line. The teenager from Florida seemed to wilt, with two double faults as she found herself 0-40 down on her own serve and was broken again as the first set slipped away.
The Centre Court crowd tried to lift her, cheering every point and move, but the fluency and electric movement about the court that has been so electric in those first two games was simply not there.
Hercog, one of most tattooed players on circuit – she has skull, a rose and a lantern on her right arm, would not let up. Gauff was then disastrously broken in the first service game of the second set as two ferocious Hercog returns punished weak shots.
The Slovenian went 4-1 up as too many shots which found the target last time went wayward and then it was 5-2 – but one match point was blown by Hercog – and suddenly, incredibly, the fightback began.
The teenager found her game, as Hercog wobbled. As the crowd roared, Gauff fought -and Hercog lost it. A second match point went as Hercog double faulted, and then it was 5-5. Incredibly it was a tie break, and Gauff took it 9-7. Centre Court began to believe.
The more experienced player needed a medical break for what looked like a back injury, and then a toilet break after that trauma – and it was the teenager who suddenly looked so much more relaxed.
The Slovenian who was now back on her heels – and Gauff took control. Two wild forehands flew wide the youngster surged into a 4-1 lead in an incredibly tense third set. But then Hercog recovered, taking the next two games with a break as it went to 3-4.
But Gauff held her nerve, and suddenly she had her first match point as two Hercog forehands went horribly wrong – and then a lob went long. She had done it again – as Centre Court erupted.