After blitzing through the Citi Open qualifying rounds, losing just nine total games in the process, 15-year-old Cori “Coco” Gauff proved once again she is more than ready for the big leagues.
In Washington D.C., Gauff will face off against Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas for the second time in as many days. On Monday, Gauff and partner Caty McNally dispatched Diyas and partner Zhu Lin in the first round of doubles, 6-3, 6-2. Although Gauff and McNally won handily, the newfound familiarity will likely help Diyas cope with the inevitable nerves present when facing a teenage prodigy.
Gauff is in the same quarter of the Washington D.C. draw as top seed Sloane Stephens. (Getty Images)
If Diyas is able to extinguish some of the flames surrounding Gauff, it wouldn’t be the first time she slowed the roll of a hyped-up 15-year-old. Diyas ended the dream run of a then 15-year-old Cici Bellis in the second round the 2014 US Open. Gauff is arguably on another level both physically and emotionally, plus has a "once in a generation" aura surrounding her.
The oddsmakers peg Gauff as a solid favorite over the 84th-ranked Diyas. That makes sense, given her performance in D.C. qualifying and recent Wimbledon showing, where she defeated three Top 100 players, including Venus Williams, en route to the round of 16. Gauff also secured her first WTA main draw win on hard courts at this year's Miami Open, rallying for a three-set victory over McNally in the first round.
The Gauff hype train shows no signs of slowing down, and will only expand with every win at the WTA level. It will be tough, but look for the pro-American crowd to propel Gauff to a win over the vastly more experienced Diyas.