by Callum Ellis from Wimbledon
TEENAGE sensation Cori Gauff’s remarkable Wimbledon journey came to an end as she fell to a straight-sets defeat against world number seven Simona Halep.
The 15-year-old, who has captured the hearts of spectators in SW19, was outdone 6-3, 6-3 by a strong performance from 2018 French Open winner Halep.
Atlanta-born Gauff had already surpassed expectations on her route to the last 16, knocking out childhood hero Venus Williams along the way.
But it was a step too far on Court One as the experience of Halep, who has setup a quarter-final clash with China’s Zhang Shuai, eventually prevailed.
Gauff’s nerves seemed evident in the early stages as she suffered an immediate setback when Halep broke in the opening game.
Halep’s sliced backhand dropped inside the baseline to send her on her way, before Gauff hit back to claim a 2-1 lead.
Gauff could have further extended her lead, had she not failed to take advantage of two break points – and Halep held to draw level.
The experience of the Romanian was beginning to tell as Halep broke to regain the ascendancy, while she responded to a solid backhand from Gauff with a winner.
Halep was in control and ensured the set was hers, before breaking in the first game of the second.
While the only double fault of the afternoon from Gauff also helped Halep extend her advantage.
Another fairytale comeback seemed unlikely but Gauff was keen replicate her performance against Polona Hercog in the previous round.
The American clawed back two games to keep herself in contention, though, she was unable to take the lead in the final set.
Halep raced into a three-game advantage and despite fending off two match points, Gauff’s adventure was brought to an end for now, at least.
It has been a Wimbledon debut to remember for the teen, who hopes the tournament is just the start of what appears to be a successful career ahead.
“I’m so excited to see, if I continue to work hard, what other success I can do in the future,” said Gauff. “I learned what it was like to be under pressure.
“I learned a lot and I’m really thankful for this experience.
“I lost [in the] second round of qualifying in Paris. Now I made it to the second week. I’m super proud of myself.
“I’m excited to see what I’ll do at US Open and the next couple tournaments coming up.”
Gauff paid tribute to the spectators in SW19 who have been behind her on every step of this remarkable journey.
“I hope they learned about me that I’m a fighter. I’ll never give up. I hope they learned from me that, I mean, anything is possible if you work hard, just continue to dream big.
“If somebody told me this maybe three weeks ago, I probably wouldn’t believe it.
“But I think just putting in the work definitely raised my confidence because I knew how hard I worked and I knew what shots I could make and what was possible.”