SAN JOSE, CA – 11th seed Coco Gauff defeated former No. 1 seed Naomi Osaka 6-4 6-4 to advance to the quarterfinals of the Silicon Valley Classic Swaps Thursday night. The win equaled Gauff’s career head-to-head against Osaka, with two wins each. She will face No. 2 seed Paula Padusa on Friday.
Gauff’s serve proved the difference: Faced with one of the best servers on the tour, Gauff has dominated its service games. The transmission for the American was pressed in San Jose. In her near-perfect match in the opening round against Anhelina Kalinina, she won 89.3% of first serve points, her highest mark in the past two seasons.
The trend continued against Osaka, who was unable to achieve a single break point on the youngster’s serve until late in the match. And only one serve broke the two seasons during the first set, but Gauff kept the pressure on Osaka in the second to break it twice and build a 5-1 lead.
Champion Osaka grabbed the reins late in the second set, saving four match points from 0-40 to hold 5-2. Then Osaka Gave broke for her first match, with the American playing her first tight match of the night.
Serving back to stay in the match, Osaka slipped 0-40 and saved all three match points to bring her overall tally to seven. Osaka kept serving quietly to force Gauff’s second win at 5-4.
“When I was playing the match now, I realized that I had been letting people call me mentally weak for so long that I forgot who I was,” Osaka said. “I realized that’s something I do. I lost the match today but I feel really confident in who I am. I feel like the pressure doesn’t hit me. I’m the pressure. I’m really happy with that.”
This time Gave didn’t falter, finishing off a thrilling finish on her eighth match point with an irreversible serve.
“At 5-1, 0-40 I didn’t settle at all,” Goff said. “It’s very rare for someone to come back from 0-40 twice but it’s Naomi. It just shows how much fight she was in. She could have easily thrown in the towel but she didn’t.”
Osaka struggled to cross Gave’s main defensive line: Gauff’s movement is second to none, but Osaka has managed to find holes in her game in her two previous wins at the 2019 US Open and her last encounter in Cincinnati last summer. This was not the case on a balmy night in San Jose. As the sun set, conditions clearly began to favor the fast American. She beat Osaka against only 12 winners in the match while shooting herself, scoring 19 winners.
“I think I improved in all aspects and that showed up today,” Goff said. “I knew playing Naomi was going to be tough. I think she has one of the best base games in the game. When I play her, I know that if she wins the match, that’s where she’s going to draw me to, in those base pools. I think today I really held out and won a lot of those The gatherings are more than they used to be. And that shows how much we have improved. The past three weeks, many hours on the court and I am happy to have them all together.”
This was the best of their four meetings: Nerves have played a role in their previous three matches. Gauff soaked up the moment in his memorable first encounter in New York and Osaka was nervous in the second a few months later at the Australian Open. Osaka beat Gauff in three sets last summer in Cincinnati, but the former No. 1 player admitted his incredibly tightness throughout that scratchy relationship.
Nerves played no part on Thursday night. It was an accurate reflection of their respective matches at the moment. Between its dominant serve and its steady forehand, San Jose has been a great display of all the improvements in Gauff’s game this year. Having reached her first major final at the French Open, Gauff is now knocking on the door to the top ten, with no one questioning her right to the feat.
Despite the heavy results, this was by no means a poor performance from Osaka, who showed her class in the first round to beat Zheng Qinwen in three high-quality sets. Against Gauff, she rediscovered her fighting abilities and left San Jose in good spirits while recognizing the need for matches.
But there’s a reason Gauff sits third behind Iga Swiatek and Ons Jabeur in the Porsche race to the leaderboard in the WTA Finals. The 18-year-old was one of the best players in the world in 2022. Tonight, she explained precisely why.