NEW YORK -- No.6 Coco Gauff advanced to the Round of 16 at the US Open after defeating Belgium's Elise Mertens 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 in the third round on Friday night.
The win is Gauff's second successful comeback of the tournament. She also came from a set down to defeat Laura Siegemund in the first round. Gauff will next face former No.1 Caroline Wozniacki on Sunday for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Gauff extended her active win streak to eight matches. The 19-year-old has been the hottest player of the hard-court summer, sweeping the two biggest titles of her career in Washington D.C. and Cincinnati. She has now won 14 of her last 15 matches.
Gauff is into her second consecutive US Open Round of 16. She posted her best result in New York last year, advancing to the quarterfinals.
That last game brought all the Coco highlights! pic.twitter.com/Y0dQEn32UR— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 2, 2023
How the match was won: Gauff came into the match with a 2-0 record over Mertens. A two-time quarterfinalist in New York, Mertens paved her way to the third round by saving match points in back-to-back wins.
The first set rolled along with the server for the first six games before Gauff capitulated first. After failing to convert two break points in the previous game, Gauff struck two double faults, including on break point, to hand Mertens the advantage at 4-3. The Belgian upped her intensity from there, besting Gauff in two protracted rallies to hold. With Gauff struggling to win points behind her second serve, Mertens broke again to seal the opening set.
"She's the type of player where she steps in, if you give her something short, especially on the backhand side, he was doing well of attacking on that end," Gauff said. "Even on the forehand she was being aggressive.
"I think in the second I tried to keep her playing back and off her back foot, also coming in a little bit more so she knew I wasn't going to stay back every time she was playing defense."
Turning point: Playing as one of the title favorites for the first time in her career, Gauff steeled herself in the second set. With the momentum fully with Mertens, Gauff saved five break points to get through a six-deuce game and hold to 1-1.
Jimmy Butler and Justin and Hailey Bieber agree.— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 2, 2023
The tennis is good. pic.twitter.com/JCVvoOWkUS
Having escaped with the game, Gauff began to reel in the Belgian. She broke Mertens for a 4-3 lead and then, again facing pressure on her own serve, Gauff saved another break point to consolidate. She took the match into a deciding set by breaking again, this time with a perfectly placed backhand pass that brought the partisan crowd on Arthur Ashe Stadium to their feet.
COCO IS COOKING NOW— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 2, 2023
She wins set 2 with a backhand winner 🔥 pic.twitter.com/olIbohidZP
The precision and execution that lifted Mertens in the first set quickly dissipated. She struck just eight unforced errors in the first set but hit a combined 31 for the rest of the match. Gauff won the last eight games of the match and closed it out after 2 hours and 4 minutes. Gauff finished the match with 33 winners to 25 unforced errors.
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"I think maybe that could have been a match that I could have lost in the past, especially breaking her, then immediately getting broken back," Gauff said. "I'm figuring out these situations, making it easier and easier as the matches go."
Next up: It will be a first-time meeting between Gauff and Wozniacki, with a US Open quarterfinal spot on the line. The two overlapped briefly on the Hologic WTA Tour. Gauff earned her first tour-level win at 2019 Wimbledon. Wozniacki retired seven months later after the 2020 Australian Open.