Coco Gauff eases into third round of Wimbledon women’s draw

WIMBLEDON, England — Coco Gauff continues to “enjoy the ride” at Wimbledon, especially after an easy victory to reach the third round, while Naomi Osaka will have to wait another year after her return to the Grand Slam event resulted in a quick exit.

On Wednesday, Gauff beat qualifier Anca Todoni 6-2, 6-1 on No. 1 Court to advance to the third round at the All England Club.

The court is a special place for Gauff, as its where she beat Venus Williams in 2019, when Gauff made her Wimbledon debut at age 15.

“This is the court where I first started here at Wimbledon. Court 1 is always a special place for me to play on,” the 20-year-old Gauff said in her on-court interview.

The victory also allows Gauff, the No. 2 seed, to move another step away from last year’s first-round exit.

“Overall, I just learned about life a lot,” the US Open champion said when asked about putting that three-set loss to Sofia Kenin behind her. “I just realized that, yes, what I do I’m very passionate about, but it’s not ever that serious and sometimes the world can make you feel like there’s so much pressure, there’s so much expectation. At the end of the [day], it’s a game. It’s sport.”

She added later: “I tend to be ultracritical on myself. I’m like, ‘Okay, let me take a step back, be patient, and enjoy the ride.'”

Gauff slipped and fell twice on the slick court and muttered to herself during the 1 hour, 6 minute match against an opponent ranked 140 places below her. She also had 16 unforced errors in the short match and managed to land only 43% of her first serves.

“I do think I could have played cleaner at some points but overall I’m happy to have got through to the third round,” Gauff said.

“That’s tennis,” she added later. “You’re always going to miss some shots that you normally would make. I am trying to focus on straight sets and winning cleaner.”

Todoni, the 19-year-old Romanian who was making her Grand Slam debut, hit 23 unforced errors and could not find her range against the fleet-footed American, who wrapped up the match with a drop shot that Todoni could only send wide.

Five years ago, Gauff beat Williams — a five-time Wimbledon champion — 6-4, 6-4 in the first round and eventually reached the last 16, all on her Grand Slam debut.

The draw has opened up for Gauff after the first-day withdrawals of Aryna Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion, and former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.

Gauff will next play British qualifier Sonay Kartel, who won 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 against France’s Clara Burel.

“It’s going to be a tough match,” Kartal said on court after the match. “It’s going to be a fun match, and I hope I can do the British crowd proud.”

Said Gauff: “It will be tough to face a Brit obviously, especially on grass. I think that they always do really well, but especially in this environment.”

Osaka, meanwhile, will have to wait for at least another 12 months after her Wimbledon comeback stalled in the second round following a 6-4 6-1 walloping by American Emma Navarro that mercifully lasted only 58 minutes.

The four-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1 returned to the tour in January following a 15-month maternity break, and she hadn’t competed at Wimbledon since 2019.

After pushing world No. 1 Iga Swiatek to the edge at the French Open, squandering a match point before losing in the second round, Osaka had four erratic errors to get broken in the seventh game of the first set by Navarro, and it went quickly downhill from there.

“Even though in the beginning, it was kind of like we were trading games, I don’t know why, [but] I didn’t feel fully confident in myself. I didn’t feel like I was playing that well,” Osaka said. “I guess those doubts started trickling in a lot (and) into my game.”

Navarro, who won the 2021 NCAA singles title for the University of Virginia and is seeded 19th at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament, used clean tennis to advance: just five unforced errors compared to 16 winners; zero break points faced; a 4-for-4 success rate at the net.

“That’s an atmosphere that could easily overwhelm me, or overwhelm any player, and I spent just a good amount of time preparing myself mentally for the emotions and the nerves I was going to feel,” Navarro said. “Then once I got out there, I just felt really at home.”

British wildcard Emma Raducanu, the 2021 US Open champion, raced into a 5-0 lead en route to a comfortable 6-1, 6-2 victory against Belgian Elise Mertens. It’s the first time Raducanu has reached a third round of a Grand Slam since her title win at Flushing Meadows

“I think I’m playing really good tennis. I’m really happy with the improvements I’ve made,” Raducanu said on court. “I knew all the hard yards and hard work I was doing this year would lead to something. I’m just so happy I’m able to reap some of the rewards here at Wimbledon.”

In other results, No. 11 Danielle Collins completed her first-round match — a 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Clara Tauson. It had been suspended Tuesday night at 4-4 in the second set.

No. 20 Beatriz Haddad Maia advanced to the third round by beating Magdalena Frech 7-5, 6-3.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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