With Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray congregating in Shanghai, along with a slew of other top-ranked players, the ATP probably thought it had the entire tennis world focused on its tour this week.
And then, not for the first time this season, Coco happened.
Tuesday's biggest surprise came not from Shanghai, where Federer and Daniil Medvedev won their opening-round matches with ease, but in faraway Linz, Austria. There, just 15 minutes before she was scheduled to face Stefanie Voegele in the International-level Linz Open, 30th-ranked Maria Sakkari withdrew with a right wrist injury. Enter 15-year-old Gauff, who went 1-1 in the qualifying draw but was selected as the lucky loser and admitted into the main draw.
Gauff made the most of her opportunity, defeating her Swiss opponent 6-3, 7-6 (3). It wasn't as straightforward as the score may indicate, though: Voegele broke Gauff as the American served for the first set, and she pushed the teen to a second-set tiebreaker after falling behind 2-5. But in each instance, Gauff played some of her best tennis when it mattered most, and closed out both sets in 2:02.
CoCo Gauff takes her second chance in Linz. The 15-year-old American defeats Stefanie Vögele in straight sets to advance into the second round – 6-3, 7-6(3). A tough battle that lasted more than two hours.— Alex | Tennis ???? (@Alex_Boroch) October 8, 2019
She gets Kozlova next. #WtaLinz pic.twitter.com/QiBGTkvsVR
Should Gauff win her next match, on Wednesday against Kateryna Kozlova, she will crack the WTA Top 100, according to journalist Jose Morgado.