LONDON, Great Britain - 15-year-old qualifier Cori Gauff continued her historic Wimbledon run on Wednesday under the fading light of Court No.1, taking down grass court stalwart Magdalena Rybarikova in two sets, 6-3, 6-3.
Already the youngest Wimbledon qualifier in the Open Era, Gauff continues to make history at Wimbledon: due to the late start, her match - which was moved up from Court 2 - was the first ever to start under the new roof of Court No.1.
In her opening round, Gauff came face to face with one of her tennis idols when she took on Venus Williams, defeating the former Wimbledon champion in straight sets and becoming the youngest player to win a match here since 1991.
Up against Rybarikova, a former Top 20 player who relishes playing on grass, Gauff struck 18 winners and two aces to book her spot into the third round.
“The last three days have definitely just kind of been surprising,” Gauff told press afterward. “It just shows if you really work hard, you can get where you want to go. Last week around this time, didn't know I was coming here. It just shows you have to be ready for everything.
“I believe everything happens for a reason. People were telling me to keep working hard and your time will come.”
Gauff didn’t face a single break point in the opening set, employing her creative attacking game from the start against Rybarikova - who knocked out the big-hitting No.10 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the last round.
The young American had all the answers to Rybarikova’s tricky style, handling the Slovak’s rushes to the net and occasional serve-and-volleying like a veteran. One break chance was all that was on offer in the first set - and Gauff took it with confidence, breaking Rybarikova to love at 4-2 and wrapping up the opening set.
The same pattern unfolded in the second set as well, as Gauff kept up her momentum to break early and grab a 2-1 lead. She had another pair of break chances at 3-2, but she didn’t need them as she broke Rybarikova to seal the victory in straight sets.
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“I think it wasn't so much that my tennis improved, it was more my mindset,” Gauff said, contrasting today’s match with her Venus upset. “Because my mindset improved, my tennis definitely changed. I don't think it was so much how many balls I hit in practice. It was more off court thinking how can I improve myself and improve the way I act on the court.
“It's definitely been a challenge. I think I've kind of reached basically almost the best mentality I can get to. You always can improve.
“Right now I feel like the way I'm acting and the way I kind of feel inside... You can kind of fake it till you make it - but I'm not faking it, at least right now.”
Gauff’s next challenge will be Polona Hercog, who earlier in the day upset Madison Keys, the No.17 seed, in straight sets to advance, 6-2, 6-4.