Melbourne: Teenage sensation Coco Gauff was unable to replicate her magical run from last year, but said on Thursday that her brief run at the Australian Open was a success.
The 16-year-old showed plenty of promise but fell to fifth seed Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-3 in a free-wheeling second-round contest on Rod Laver Arena.
Gauff’s thunderous serve and booming groundstrokes kept her in the hunt, but the experienced Ukranian, a long-time top-10 fixture, lifted in the pivotal moments.
It ended Gauff’s campaign, which started brightly with a convincing straight-sets victory over 58th-ranked Jil Teichmann of Switzerland.
The American, however, believed her level had improved from a year ago, where she became one of the best stories at the Australian Open by beating Venus Williams and then champion Naomi Osaka to reach the fourth round.
“Last year against Naomi… was one of my best matches. Today I feel like I played better,” said Gauff, who had 24 winners and five aces.
“Not the result that I wanted, but I thought that I played better.
“Last year I lost to the eventual champion, so it shows that I’m pretty close.”
Touted as an heir apparent to 23-time Slam champion Serena Williams, Gauff has emerged as a fan favourite and a vocal leader in the movement for racial justice in United States.
Expectations have heightened for 48-ranked Gauff, who has now gone three straight Slams without making it out of the second round, but she said she remained composed under the bright lights.
“I felt really calm on the court,” she said.
“A lot of people saw that back home. I got a lot of text messages saying I looked calm.
“I felt I was playing well and I felt really in the moment.
“I didn’t think about last year and I try not to compare results because the past is the past.”