Defending champion Naomi Osaka consoling a tearful Coco Gauff will go down as the lasting memory from their third-round US Open showdown billed as “the future of women’s tennis”.
World No 1 Osaka overpowered 15-year-old Gauff 6-3, 6-0 in 65 minutes to keep her title defense on track before sharing a warm embrace with an opponent overwhelmed by the occasion in the New York spotlight.
The emotional clash was followed by tearful on-court interviews, with Osaka asking Gauff to join her at the microphone as they met at the net.
“It was kind of instinctive because when I shook her hand, I saw that she was kind of tearing up a little. Then it reminded me how young she was,” Osaka said. “I wanted her to have her head high, not walk off the court sad. I want her to, like, be aware that she’s accomplished so much and she’s still so young.”
The gesture was appreciated by everyone, with tennis fans and players praising the top seed for sporting spirit. Osaka herself tweeted that Gauff was a warrior while several WTA players hailed the Japanese star on social media.