NEW YORK (AP) — Coco Gauff has become the youngest player to reach the U.S. Open’s third round since 1996 — and set up a showdown against No. 1 seed and defending champion Naomi Osaka.
Gauff, a 15-year-old from Florida, edged Timea Babos of Hungary 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 by breaking in the last game of the nearly 2½-hour match at Louis Armstrong Stadium.
The partisan crowd backed Gauff loudly, chanting “Let’s go, Coco!” during the final changeover.
She is putting together another captivating run, just like she did on the way to the fourth round at Wimbledon last month in her Grand Slam debut.
Gauff vs. Osaka is scheduled for Saturday.
Second-seeded Rafael Nadal advanced to the third round of the U.S. Open with a walkover after second-round opponent Thanasi Kokkinakis pulled out before their match with a right shoulder injury.
Kokkinakis, a wild card from Australia ranked No. 203, also retired from the first round of this year’s Australian Open with the same injury.
Nadal’s match in Arthur Ashe Stadium will be replaced by a second-round contest between No. 22 Marin Cilic and Cedrick-Marcel Stebe that was previously scheduled in Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Taylor Townsend unleashed an aggressive net game — coming forward more than 100 times — to upset fourth-seeded Simona Halep 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) and move into the third round of the U.S. Open.
Townsend, a 116th-ranked American who hasn’t always lived up to expectations, took a big step toward turning that around by employing an aggressive serve and volley, chip-and-charge game that’s a rarity on the baseline-centric women’s tour.
Townsend moved in against the Wimbledon champion at every chance. She came to the net 106 times, 64 in the deciding set alone, and it paid off, winning 60 percent of those points. By contrast, Halep came forward just 10 times.
Fittingly, Townsend served and volleyed on match point, snapping a sharp forehand volley to Halep’s backhand that she put into the net.
Next up for Townsend is Sorana Cirstea, who won in straight sets earlier over Aliona Bolsova.
Andrea Petkovic started the day at the U.S. Open with an upset, beating No. 6 seed Petra Kvitova 6-4, 6-4.
Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, could never get into a rhythm from the baseline or the net and piled up 32 unforced errors. The last came on match point, when Kvitova shanked an overhead off her racket frame wide.
For Petkovic, a German ranked No. 88, it was only the second time she has scored back-to-back main draw victories this year.
Next up for Petkovic is either No. 25 Elise Mertens or Kristyna Pliskova.
In other early results, 15th-seeded David Goffin beat Gregoire Barrere 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 in less than an hour and a half, and No. 20 Sofia Kenin downed Laura Siegemund 7-6 (4), 6-0.
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