SAN JOSE, CA – 11th seed Coco Gauff defeated former No. 1 seed Naomi Osaka 6-4 6-4 to advance to the quarterfinals of the Silicon Valley Classic Swaps Thursday night. The win equaled Gauff’s career head-to-head against Osaka, with two wins each. She will face No. 2 seed Paula Padusa on Friday.
Gauff’s serve proved the difference: Faced with one of the best servers on the tour, Gauff has dominated its service games. The transmission for the American was pressed in San Jose. In her near-perfect match in the opening round against Anhelina Kalinina, she won 89.3% of first serve points, her highest mark in the past two seasons.
The trend continued against Osaka, who was unable to achieve a single break point on the youngster’s serve until late in the match. And only one serve broke the two seasons during the first set, but Gauff kept pressure on Osaka in the second to break it twice and build a 5-1 lead.
Champion Osaka grabbed the reins late in the second set, saving four match points from 0-40 to hold 5-2. Then Osaka Gave broke for her first match, with the American playing her first tight match of the night.
Serving back to stay in the match, Osaka slipped 0-40 and saved all three match points to bring her overall tally to seven. Osaka kept serving quietly to force Gauff’s second win at 5-4. This time Gave didn’t falter, finishing off a thrilling finish on her eighth match point with an irreversible serve.
“Even though I was leading 5-1, 0-40 I knew I didn’t have the match in the bag yet and proved it,” Gauff said on court. “When she’s playing Naomi she can play light tennis. I thought two match points I had a real shot. Other than that, ace, ace, unanswerable winner. So I wasn’t too angry. This will be my day.”
Osaka struggled to cross Gave’s main defensive line: Gauff’s movement is second to none, but Osaka has managed to find holes in her game in her two previous wins at the 2019 US Open and her last encounter in Cincinnati last summer. This was not the case on a balmy night in San Jose. As the sun set, conditions clearly began to favor the fast American. She beat Osaka against only 12 winners in the match while shooting herself, scoring 19 winners.
This was the best of their four meetings: Nerves have played a role in their previous three matches. Gauff soaked up the moment in his memorable first encounter in New York and Osaka was nervous in the second a few months later at the Australian Open. Osaka bested Gauff in three sets last summer in Cincinnati, but the former No. 1 player admitted his incredibly tight streak throughout that scratchy relationship.
Nerves played no part on Thursday night. It was an accurate reflection of their respective matches at the moment. Between its dominant serve and its steady forehand, San Jose has been a great display of all the improvements in Gauff’s game this year. Having reached her first major final at the French Open, Gauff is now knocking on the door to the top ten, with no one questioning her right to the feat.
Despite the heavy results, this was by no means a poor performance from Osaka, who showed her class in the first round to beat Zheng Qinwen in three high-quality sets.
But there’s a reason Gauff sits third behind Iga Swiatek and Ons Jabeur in the Porsche race to the WTA Finals leaderboard. The 18-year-old was one of the best players in the world in 2022. Tonight, she explained precisely why.