It was a hugely disappointing day for rising star Coco Gauff as she suffered an unexpected straight-sets defeat to Jelena Ostapenko in the fourth round of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park. Being as honest as ever, Gauff reflected on her progress, her hard work and also her frustration at losing before the quarter-finals of the first Grand Slam of the season.
Coco Gauff became visibly emotional as she reflected on her surprise fourth-round Australian Open defeat to Jelena Ostapenko. Ostapenko won through to the quarter-finals with a 7-5 6-3 victory over the hugely-talented American in what was the pair’s first meeting since 2019. The 2017 French Open champion was at her very best to knock out Gauff, the world No. 7, in straight sets as she brought an abrupt end to the American’s impressive unbeaten start to 2023.
Gauff was keen to switch her attention to her ongoing doubles partnership woth Jessica Pegula – who beat Barbora Krejcikova in her own fourth-round match – as a way to cope with the disappointment of her defeat to Ostapenko, and the opportunity it will give her to “play with some frustration”. “I think I worked really hard, and you know, I felt really good coming into the tournament,” an already visibly emotional Gauff said.
“I still feel really good, I feel like I’ve improved a lot. When you play a player like her, you feel like there is nothing you can do, but I wouldn’t say nothing because every match you play a part in…but it was rough, so it is a little bit frustrating on that part. “I’m excited to play doubles. I think it gives me a chance to still be around, and I think I just enjoy competing in general, so I think it will help me regardless, just let me play with some frustration.
“Doubles has taught me how to play after losing, how to play with frustration, and that’s what I felt like today. I was frustrated so that will help me in the future, and bouncing back from a loss is difficult in a Grand Slam. “But I’m hoping I can help her, and I hope she continues well in the tournament. Now that I’m out, I hope she wins it. I knew we would probably face each other if we kept winning, but now I’m rooting for her all the way.”
Ostapenko will next take on the reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in an unlikely quarter-final meeting after she beat world No.1 Iga Swiatek 6-4 6-4. “She is such a great player,” Ostapenko said of Gauff after the match.
“Super young and she’s playing really well and fighting until the very last point, but I really had nothing to lose. I just went there and tried to show my best and try to fight for every point and make it hard for her. I’m really happy with the win.
Upsets galore in the women's draw 👀@JelenaOstapenk8 reaches her first Grand Slam QF in 5️⃣ years!#AusOpen • #AO2023 pic.twitter.com/m5zmPmQiXv
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 22, 2023
“I had to stay positive all the time and I knew I had to play aggressively to beat her. I was trying to step into the court. “Even if I missed some balls I knew if I did everything right I would put some balls in the court. In the end, I kept her under so much pressure and it brought me a win.” On playing Rybakina next, she said: “I think she serves well. It’s most important to play my game again, [play] aggressively and keep her under pressure. We’ll see what happens, I’ll just try to enjoy it as much as possible.”