LINZ, Austria - 15-year-old American Coco Gauff made the most of her second shot at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz, emerging victorious as a lucky loser over Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele, 6-3, 7-6(3) to reach the second round.
Gauff took a disappointing defeat in qualifying in what was her first event since reaching the US Open third round - where she played former World No.1 Naomi Osaka in a memorable Arthur Ashe Stadium encounter - but bounced back in superb style to advance in two hours and two minutes on Centre Court.
"It was actually very surprising [to make it in the draw]. We were waiting around for the match, and I was supposed to do a press thing at 2 p.m. so we went back to the hotel because I practiced this morning. Then I got a call, came back, and within 40 minutes, I was on the court," Gauff said.
"I didn't know too much about my opponent, so I just found out how she played. This is my first WTA win indoors...I live in Florida, so I don't know to play indoors that much, but I think it works well with my serve and with my game. I'm glad that I was given another opportunity to play."
The American has been one of the stories of 2019 with her big results in Flushing Meadows and across the pond at the All-England Club, where she reached the second week of Wimbledon with a win over Venus Williams, and enjoyed a similarly bright start against Voegele, racing out to a double break lead.
Though Voegele, a former Top 50 player, edged back to one break as Gauff served for the opening set, the teenager was undaunted, breaking once more to put herself six games from victory.
Up 5-3 in the second set, Gauff, who won her maiden WTA main draw match earlier this year at the Miami Open, held her first match point only for Voegele to battle back once more, winning four straight games to find herself serving for a deciding set.
Channeling the fighting spirit that helped edge through multiple three-setters on the game's biggest stages, Gauff broke straight back and won the final six points of the ensuing tie-break to book her spot in the Round of 16.
"I think I saw improvement from yesterday and today," Gauff assessed. "After my match yesterday, I went to go practice, and I thought that I used what I learned there, today. I think it's a little bit faster than it is playing outdoors, but other than that, there's not too much that I have to change.
"I think I have to be more aggressive, but other than that, it's not too different than playing on a hardcourt outdoors. Being in Linz has been a great experience so far for me. I actually enjoy it. There's a lot less distractions on the court."
Standing between the American and her first WTA quarterfinal is Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova, who clinched a third-set tie-break against rising Russian Anna Blinkova in her first round.
"Technically, I already lost, and I hope that Sakkari is doing well and she's able to get back, but I'm grateful to have the opportunity," Gauff added.
"I haven't really looked that far ahead yet, so I'm just going to keep playing my game and having fun. Today was my lucky day, and I hope that I'm able to take that luck into tomorrow, or whenever I play my next match."