MELBOURNE (Reuters) – American teenager Coco Gauff crashed out of the Australian Open in the opening round after an error-strewn performance against China’s Wang Qiang as the 18th seed lost 6-4 6-2 on Monday.
Gauff shot to fame as a 15-year-old when she reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2019 on her Grand Slam debut. She also reached the fourth round at Melbourne Park in 2020 before making the French Open quarter-finals last year.
The 17-year-old Gauff made 38 unforced errors to lose in 73 minutes against the 110th-ranked Chinese, who knocked Serena Williams out of the Australian Open two years ago to reach the fourth round.
“I don’t know if it was just an off day or just getting used to it (conditions),” said Gauff, who had won her previous two meetings against former world number 12 Wang.
“Today I came into the match and the first couple of games, even though they were close, I was making more errors than I was used to.
“Just everything disappointed me about today. I feel in the pre-season, I worked really hard, and I felt like I was ready to have a good run here. Today I just didn’t perform well.
“I didn’t play as free as I normally do today. I think I was playing a little bit tighter than normal.”
Seven-times major winner Mats Wilander said Gauff needs to be better tactically.
“For her to be a future Grand Slam champion, the pressure is starting to build, but she still has many, many years before she is going to get to her best,” Eurosport expert Wilander said.
“But she has to learn now to figure out her opponent and all the things she needs to do to make her opponent worse. You can’t always be perfect.”
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Ed Osmond)