The 15-year-old American has that opportunity after rallying to defeat 18-year-old Russian Anastasia Potapova, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the first round of the US Open.
“I think I gave (my parents) a heart attack,” Gauff said on court to ESPN after the win. “Especially my mom. My dad, he looks a little bit tired over there, too.”
It had been five years since a player won a main draw match at the US Open prior to their 16th birthday; the last player to do it was CiCi Bellis.
Gauff, the youngest player in the draw, trailed by a set and a break. But she fought back — and igniting the crowd at Louis Armstrong Stadium while doing it. Gauff had 4-1 lead in the third set, but following a medical timeout Potapova broke back.
But Gauff stopped Potapova’s win streak, breaking to win the match when Potapova’s forehand went long.
“Honestly, I wanted to win, and I was just trying to calm myself down, and really it was the crowd that really helped me, because I was almost out,” Gauff said to ESPN.
The two players’ combined age is 33 years old, making it the youngest first-round matchup at this year’s tournament. Potapova is ranked 72nd. Gauff is 140th, a career high.
The youngest player in the draw, Gauff is making her US Open debut as a wild card. She became an overnight sensation in July when she reached the fourth round of Wimbledon, beating the likes of idol Venus Williams in the process.
In her run, she also became the first 15-year-old to reach the last 16 at Wimbledon since Martina Hingis in 1996. Gauff’s Wimbledon came to an end at the hands of eventual champion Simona Halep.
Since then, Gauff claimed the women’s doubles title at the Citi Open earlier this month, where she partnered with 17-year-old and fellow American Catherine McNally. In 2018, Gauff won the US Open girls’ doubles title with McNally.
Gauff next will face Hungary’s Timea Babos in the second round. Babos, 26, advanced earlier Tuesday after her first-round opponent, No. 28 seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, retired after Babos won the first set 6-2.
Should Gauff get past Babos, who is ranked 112th, she potentially could face world No. 1 Naomi Osaka in the third round. Osaka reached the second round with a 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2 win over Anna Blinkova.
Said the 21-year-old Osaka in her post-match press conference of Gauff, before the teen would go on to win Tuesday: “She seems to be doing fine.”
Gauff later was asked about Osaka’s accomplishments.
“I think she’s doing amazing, obviously,” Gauff said. “Hopefully I can get to her level. I mean, she’s amazing. She’s a nice person. I mean, I can’t even, like, say anything bad about her, her family, because they’ve always been super nice, even since I was 12.”
As to if she gets to play her, Gauff deflected, saying, “Right now I’m just focused on my next match. I’m going to take it one match at a time.”