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Bittersweet Coco Gauff as Novak Djokovic picks up steam at Australian Open

Bittersweet Coco Gauff as Novak Djokovic picks up steam at Australian Open

MELBOURNE (AFP)

Coco Gauff finds solace in an ice pack after her loss. (AFP)

Coco Gauff finds solace in an ice pack after her loss. (AFP)

– Defending champion Novak Djokovic swept into the Australian Open quarter-finals but 15-year-old Coco Gauff exited in tears on Sunday after failing in her bid to become the Open era’s youngest Grand Slam winner.

Djokovic, on the hunt for his eighth Melbourne title, was remorseless against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, crushing the 14th seed 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to book an 11th appearance in the last eight.

Novak Djokovic in file photo.

Novak Djokovic in file photo.

The Serb’s reward is a match-up with big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, who is back in form after a run of injuries and dismissed 2018 finalist Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.

”Milos is one of the tallest, strongest players on tour and has one of the biggest serves,” said Djokovic, the 16-time Grand Slam winner.

”I’ve got to be ready for missiles coming from his side of the net.”

Gauff’s giant-killing Australian debut generated intense hype as she attempted to become the youngest Major-winner in the post-1968 Open era, breaking the record set by a 16-year-old Martina Hingis in 1997.

The teenager beat seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams in round one and title-holder Naomi Osaka in the third, but she came unstuck against a determined Kenin.

Gauff raised hopes by edging the first set but then her fellow American Kenin took control and it was one-sided at the finish as she won 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-0.

”I just did the best I can,” said the Moscow-born 14th seed, when asked how she had dealt with the ‘Cocomania’ that blew up around the match.

”I just tried to take it like any other match. I know she’s playing well, I just tried to play my game and fight for every point and just not focus on anything else.”

Kenin, already on the best Grand Slam run of her career, next faces Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur who beat China’s Wang Qiang to become the first Arab woman to reach a Major quarter-final.

Wang stunned Serena Williams in the third round but the 27th seed ran out of steam against the powerful Jabeur, who fought back from a break down in the first set to win 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.

Jabeur, the highest-ranked Arab woman in history — she reached a career-high 51 last year — is the first Tunisian woman to win a main-draw match at the Australian Open.

”I’m really shaking right now, it’s unbelievable, I can’t describe how I feel,” said the 25-year-old.

”Last time Kenin won against me so maybe it’ll be my revenge,” added Jabeur, who last year lost to Kenin in Hobart and retired against her in Mallorca.

Later, Roger Federer plays Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics as he seeks a record 15th appearance in the Melbourne quarter-finals, two days after going the distance in a five-set thriller with John Millman.

Tags: Australian Open, Coco Gauff, Novak Djokovic