Rod Laver has told Coco Gauff he wants to meet her after the 15-year-old requested a selfie with the Australian legend after beating Naomi Osaka. Gauff earned the biggest win of her career on Friday when she beat defending Australian Open champion Osaka on Rod Laver Arena.
It was Gauff’s first time on the famous court but she showed no nerves as she dispatched Osaka with a clinical display.
After the match, the teenager was asked about tennis icon Laver and playing on his court.
She said: “I love it down here, oh my gosh! Thank you guys from the bottom of my heart. I’m on the Rod Laver Arena! I can’t believe it!
“I’ve walked past Rod Laver a couple of times in the hallway but I’ve never met him – if he sees this, tell him we can set up a meeting sometime. I need a selfie for Instagram!”
And Laver was clearly watching as minutes after the match he tweeted: “Hello @CocoGauff – congratulations on your incredible victory tonight. I would love to meet you too.”
Gauff is the youngest player to beat a top-five ranked opponent since Jennifer Capriati toppled Gabriela Sabatini at the 1991 US Open.
While this was a spectacular day for Gauff, it was a desperately disappointing one for Osaka, who had battled so brilliantly to win her second Grand Slam title in Melbourne 12 months ago but succumbed meekly and could now drop out of the top 10.
Gauff, who lost to Osaka at the US Open last summer, must have taken inspiration from Wang Qiang, who was brutally hit off the court by Serena Williams in New York only to beat her on the same court earlier in the day.
What was clear from the start was how much Gauff’s serve has improved and she comfortably kept Osaka at bay while displaying her remarkable composure for a player so new to this level.
Gauff would still be considered young in the juniors but there is no doubt she belongs on the biggest stages the sport has to offer.
The teenager was trading well with Osaka from the back of the court and, as the first set progressed, it was the defending champion who started to snatch at her shots, missing a succession of backhands.
From 3-3, Gauff won three straight games to move a set in front and then broke the Osaka serve again at the start of the second set.
She had two chances to hold for 2-0 but could not take either and it seemed the chink of light that Osaka needed to get a foothold in the match again.
But the Japanese player simply was not playing well, and the unforced errors continued to flow.
Gauff broke again to lead 4-3 and, although Osaka forced her young opponent to serve it out, a comeback never looked on the cards.