The athletes will meet again in the third round of the Australian Open Thursday

By Georgia Slater
January 22, 2020 12:59 PM
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After battling back from behind on the court, Coco Gauff has set her next showdown with tennis champion Naomi Osaka.

Gauff, 15, played a hard-fought match at the Australian Open Wednesday, taking down Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 after losing to her opponent in the first set.

“My parents, they always told me I can come back, no matter what the score is,” Gauff told ESPN after the second-round match.

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Osaka, 22, defeated China’s Saisai Zheng 6-2, 6-4 in her second-round match, coming out on top after two breaks in the second set, CNN reported.

“I got fired up when she got up 4-2 and people started clapping more,” Osaka told the outlet.

As the two athletes advance forward, they are set to meet on the court Thursday for the first time since their emotional U.S. Open match in August 2019.

“I know what to expect,” Gauff told ESPN of the upcoming competition. “I’m excited for a good match.”

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“I think [at the] U.S. Open I was nervous,” she explained to CNN. “It was my first time on [Arthur] 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.”

During the third round of the U.S. Open in August, Osaka defeated Gauff 6-3, 6-0.

After the match, Osaka invited Gauff to join her winner’s interview — a moment that left both tennis players in tears.

“I wanted to leave the court because I lost,” Gauff said of the moment during a September interview on Today. She continued, “And she was like ‘No, come with me’ and I was just shocked because no one ever does that.”

“I couldn’t thank her enough and I was really shocked,” the athlete added. “It was an emotional moment — good and bad emotions.”

“She’s been so sweet to me so thank you for this, thank you,” Gauff said through tears during the post-match interview.