Two of tennis’ most exciting young players, Coco Gauff and Emma Raducanu, will face off in the second round of the Australian Open after both won their opening matches on Monday.
Gauff, 18, comfortably beat Czech Katerina Siniaková, winning in straight sets 6-1 6-4.
Elsewhere, Raducanu eased some of his injury worries with his own straight-sets win over Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch, winning 6-3 6-2.
The 2021 US Open champion twisted her ankle nearly two weeks ago in Auckland as she left the court in tears.
After a tough few years, Raducanu is seeded at No.77 but produced a confident display in Melbourne to set up the tantalizing clash with Gauff.
After her own victory, Gauff acknowledged the pressure Raducanu had to face since winning her first Grand Slam at 18.
“Obviously she was under a lot of pressure, she burst onto the scene, I probably feel more like what I went through coming to win a slam,” Gauff told reporters.
“And above all, I feel like I’m from the UK, to be like the first British person to do something in a long time, it’s probably a lot more pressure than I’m used to as a than American.
“You know, Serena (Williams) is retired now, but she was always the American that people looked up to.”
Gauff herself faced immense pressure, becoming a household name at the age of 15 with impressive performances at Wimbledon and the US Open.
But the No.7 seed showed no signs of nervousness in her victory over Siniaková, claiming her first set on the Rod Laver Arena court in just 22 minutes.
It looked like Siniaková could lead the game in the third set as she broke Gauff to take a 4-2 lead, but the American was able to recover before finally sealing the impressive victory.
Gauff finished with 24 winners for 18 unforced errors and won more than 70% of his service points on the day.
“Really happy with me,” Gauff said. “Katerina is a fighter, I knew she was going to fight until the last point and she proved it today. I’m glad I mentally stayed there.
Raducanu, 20, needed an hour and 25 minutes to beat Korpatsch, who is ranked one position higher than Britain’s No.1 in the world rankings.
Raducanu had 27 winners to Korpatsch’s 10 in the match, as her groundstrokes propelled her to victory.
“I think my forehand is a real weapon for me,” Raducanu told reporters after his win.
“It’s going to take some tweaking, but going forward I see myself really liking that side and I really like it. I think right now I’m swinging more freely in general, and yeah, it shows. probably in my forehand maybe.