No.14 seed Coco Gauff reached the Qatar TotalEnergies Open quarterfinals with her fifth career Top 10 win, a 6-2, 6-3 upset of No.3 seed Paula Badosa in 1 hour and 17 minutes.
The result was a reversal of the pair's only previous encounter, won by Badosa 6-2, 6-2 in the third round of Indian Wells last year en route to her second career title. Gauff's revenge puts the 17-year-old into her fifth quarterfinal at WTA 1000 level or above, following Dubai, Rome, Roland Garros and Montreal last year.
Gauff also sealed her first win over a Top 10 player since Rome 2021, where she defeated Aryna Sabalenka and Ashleigh Barty (via retirement) to reach the last eight.
Doha debut going well 😊👋@CocoGauff takes out the No.3 seed Badosa in straight-sets and is into the @QatarTennis quarterfinals! pic.twitter.com/AvSwv3cug1— wta (@WTA) February 23, 2022
Keys to the match: Gauff showed off her full repertoire to maintain control of the majority of baseline exchanges. The American initially repeatedly outfoxed Badosa with her dropshot and tightened her grip on the first set with some impressive reflexes at net.
Gauff also came out on top of the high-octane baseline rallies that Badosa usually excels at, out-manoeuvring the Spaniard before finding the opening to inject pace with her backhand. As she grew in confidence, the Gauff forehand - sometimes a vulnerability - also proved dangerous, at one point capturing the point with a gorgeous sharp angle.
In total, Gauff struck 26 winners to Badosa's 12. Badosa was also undone by a slew of unforced errors: she dropped serve in the first game after a sequence of forehand misses, and never quite found consistency with her baseline game.
Gauff's return of serve was also key. Dominance behind her first serve has been key to several of Badosa's recent victories, but she was only able to win 61% of those points against Gauff compared to 88% against Clara Tauson in the previous round.
Step counter 🆙@CocoGauff | #QatarTennis pic.twitter.com/igtFdm8j3c— wta (@WTA) February 23, 2022
Turning points avoided: Despite the straightforward scoreline, there were moments where the match could have swung in Badosa's favour. Gauff twice served a trio of double faults in a single game, but neither mattered in the end: in the first set, she dropped serve but still led by a break at 3-1; in the second, she gritted out a hold for 2-2 anyway.
Badosa was also guilty of letting points slip that had been fully in her control. Having survived a flurry of Gauff winners to hold in the first game of the second set, she ended a gripping all-court display of athleticism from both players by netting a simple volley. Down break point at 2-2, she sent a short backhand sitter wide.
Ostapenko takes revenge on Krejcikova to continue winning streak
No.15 seed Jelena Ostapenko also dealt out some revenge in the desert, dispatching No.2 seed Barbora Krejcikova 6-3, 6-2 in 1 hour and 13 minutes. Ostapenko, the champion in Dubai last week, equalled her career-best winning streak of eight with the victory and scored a fifth win over a Grand Slam champion in the past two weeks.
At the Australian Open one month ago, the Latvian had led Krejcikova 6-2, 3-1 in the third round before succumbing in three sets. Here, she made no such mistake in a thoroughly dominant performance, landing 71% of her first serves and slamming 25 winners to Krejcikova's 11.
Highlights: Ostapenko d. Krejcikova
After taking the first break of each set, Ostapenko did find herself pegged back by the Czech both times. This week, she has said that her mistake in Australia was trying "to be more accurate and just put the ball in play" instead of maintaining the all-out strategy that had put her in a winning position.
Her response to Krejcikova getting back on serve bore out her intent to rectify this. In both sets, she redoubled her aggression to regain the lead - and this paid the most dividends in a stunning home stretch.
Having been broken in the first game of the second set, Krejcikova seemed to have got a foothold in the match after breaking back and then taking a 2-1 lead. Ostapenko halted the comeback before it had even started by simply reeling off 20 of the next 25 points to take the next five games and the match.