No.3 seed Coco Gauff added another feather to her cap at the China Open, saving four set points to battle past No.16 seed Veronika Kudermetova 7-6(5), 6-2 in the third round. The result extended her winning streak to 15 -- the longest on the Hologic WTA Tour this season so far.
Gauff's streak stretches back to her Montreal quarterfinal loss to Jessica Pegula at the start of August. Following that, she captured her maiden WTA 1000 title in Cincinnati and then was crowned a Grand Slam champion for the first time at the US Open. Since her Wimbledon first-round loss to Sofia Kenin, the 19-year-old has won 21 out of 22 matches.
Gauff had previously been tied for the longest winning streak of the year with Iga Swiatek, who won 14 in a row across Roland Garros, Bad Homburg and Wimbledon. The joint third-longest streaks of 2023 belong to Aryna Sabalenka (13 straight across Adelaide 1, the Australian Open and Dubai) and Elena Rybakina (13 straight across Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami).
Gauff, who ended Tokyo champion Kudermetova's own six-match winning streak, advances to her 11th quarterfinal of the year, and seventh at WTA 1000 level or above. She will next face No.6 seed Maria Sakkari, who survived a stern examination from home hope Wang Xinyu to advance 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 in 2 hours and 31 minutes.
Highlights: Sakkari d. Wang Xinyu
No.37-ranked Wang had won 17 of her previous 20 matches, and pressured Sakkari in the first two sets with the quality of her hitting and efficient finishes at net. But Wang faded in the home stretch, leaking errors off her backhand side in particular, to allow Guadalajara champion Sakkari to pull through.
Sakkari booked her place in a 10th quarterfinal this season, including four in a row since the US Open. Wang fell to 0-5 against Top 10 opposition, having now won a set in three of those encounters (previously losing 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 to Aryna Sabalenka at the 2022 Australian Open, and 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 to Karolina Muchova at the 2023 US Open). Sakkari needs to reach the semifinals in Beijing to keep her hopes of qualifying for the WTA Finals Cancun alive.
How the match was won: Gauff made a swift start, winning eight of the first nine points and then saving two break points to advance to a 3-0 lead.
But Kudermetova responded by winning five of the next six games, a passage of play highlighted by a spectacular pass to break Gauff back in the fifth game. The 26-year-old got the better of Gauff in a number of high-octane rallies and took her momentum to the brink of the opening set, serving at 5-4, 40-0.
Kudermetova was unable to convert four set points in that game, leaking three unforced errors and a double fault. The ensuing tiebreak featured edgy play from both, but two more double faults from Kudermetova -- the second at 5-5 -- proved crucial to Gauff stealing the set.
The American rolled in the second, in which she broke Kudermetova twice and did not face a break point herself, and wrapped up victory in 1 hour and 47 minutes. Gauff improves to 2-1 overall against Kudermetova, having previously lost to her 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 in the Doha quarterfinals in February, but edged her 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(3) in the first round of Stuttgart in April.
Gauff on her motivation at the end of the season: "The end of this season for me, especially once you're qualified [for the WTA Finals], I consider it bonus matches. That's why the first two matches, I think I was disappointed in the way that I was playing. I think I was playing a little bit more tight, not going for my shots, not going for my serve. Today I was telling myself try to hit above 110, 115 as much as I could, be more aggressive.
"In the long run ... I feel like now that the pressure is off, now that the Grand Slam season is over and I'm qualified, I think this could be a good week to continue to work on things I need to work on. Today I think I approached the match like that. I wish I did it earlier."