MELBOURNE, Australia - Another major comeback for Coco Gauff has earned her a second Grand Slam match with Naomi Osaka.
The 15-year-old American rallied from a set down, and 3-0 down in the decider, for her latest escape: a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over Romanian Sorana Cirstea in the second round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.
In her Australian Open debut, Gauff will take on Osaka for the second straight major where the Japanese star is the defending champion.
The pair faced off at the US Open, under the lights inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, in the same round in September, which was won by Osaka, 6-3, 6-0, but made headlines around the world for an emotional post-match scene that saw both players be interviewed on court.
"I was just trying to stay calm mostly and stay positive. I've always believed that I can come back regardless of the score," she reflected on her latest success.
"I think 0-30, 0-3 - I think it was 0-30 - that's when I think I kind of changed everything and decided to be more aggressive.
"The whole match I knew I needed to be more aggressive. I guess I finally decided to do that even though I wish I decided earlier. That's okay.
"I felt the momentum changing. I knew I had to keep pressing."
After being broken in the seventh game of the opener, Gauff rebounded by breaking the Romanian in her first service game of the second set, and rode the advantage all the way through to the decider.
Nonetheless, it was the former World No.21 who started the better of the two players in the final set by winning the first three games, only to lose the next three.
Cirstea had her chances to stretch her lead even further, but Gauff earned a critical hold from 0-30 down to get on the board as her comeback began to gain steam.
The two players would trade contested service holds from then on, but it was Gauff who converted at 5-5, on the lone break point chance for either player after 3-3, to ultimately book her place in the last 32 in two hours and six minutes.
Now she is looking ahead to meeting the defending champion once more.
"I think I'll be less nervous this time," she said. "I think US Open I was nervous. It was my first time on Ashe.
"We're both familiar with each other's games. She plays really aggressive. This time coming in I'm going to be more aggressive.
"I think in general my mindset has always been nothing to lose really. Even when in juniors, even though I was ranked pretty high in juniors, I was technically supposed to win. Then I still felt like I had nothing to lose.
"I still feel that now. I think my mindset just is I'm going to fight. If I lose, the world is not going to end. I'm going to have another match in maybe a week or so.
"I think it's just less pressure to win. I feel like for me, I'm not trying to win so much but trying to play my best tennis on the court. Winning comes with that if I play good."