Coco Goff’s bid to become the youngest Australian Open champion since 1997 gained momentum on Friday with a straight sets victory over fellow American Bernarda Parra.
The 18-year-old won 6-3, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena to set up a last-16 clash against 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.
A maiden Grand Slam title for seventh seed Goff would make her the youngest Melbourne champion since 16-year-old Martina Hingis 26 years ago.
Goff took the top spot at the first major of the year after winning her third WTA title at the Auckland Classic earlier this month.
She admitted she was “lucky” to get a hard-fought second-round victory over Emma Raducano in the battle for the tennis prodigy.
But Goff let his racket do the talking in his first meeting with power hitter Parra, fending off some late pressure from the world number 41 when serving for the match at 5-2.
“She was hitting the ball really hard,” said Goff, who this week became the first woman to record 100 tour-level wins before Caroline Wozniacki’s 19th birthday in 2009.
“So I was just trying to hang in there and hold the ground while I could.
“She had a very long streak last season so I knew she would be a tough player to beat, so I’m happy to get to the second week.”
Goff is one of two youngsters left in the women’s draw. The other is 17-year-old Linda Frovirtova, who plays Markta Vandrossova in an all-Czech third-round clash on Saturday.
Goff admitted that playing a former Grand Slam champion in Ostapenko for a place in the quarter-finals will present a different challenge, and it won’t all go her way.
“I think I’ve played him before,” said Goff, who beat the Latvian 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 in their only previous meeting, the 2019 Linz final of the youngster in Austria. For first WTA Tour title.
That match was also on hard court but indoors.
“I think you need to be offensive when you can. Obviously, there are going to be shots that they hit that are going to be great. You have to accept that.”
It is the first time 17th seed Ostapenko has reached the last 16 at Melbourne Park.
“She’s a great player and she’s still very young, but she’s already very experienced,” said Ostapenko of Gaff.
“I’ll honestly go out there and just enjoy the match because it’s great to be in the fourth round already.”
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