Navarro turfs out Gauff from Wimbledon following all-American duel

Coco Gauff found herself utterly helpless on Sunday. The lethal precision and winner’s mindset she had honed en route to her first Grand Slam victory at the U.S. Open last year vanished completely, as her aspirations of making it to the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time were shattered by a 6-4, 6-3 defeat at the hands of Emma Navarro.

When the draw pitted second seed Gauff against fellow American Navarro in the fourth round, it seemed almost certain which player would come out on top. Gauff had dominated her way to the last 16 at the All England Club without dropping a single set. She also held the unique distinction of being the only player, male or female, to reach the semi-finals or better at the past three Grand Slams.

However, all of that meant nothing on Sunday as Gauff appeared lost on Centre Court. The frustration running through her was palpable when she yelled at her coach Brad Gilbert: “Tell me something. You guys aren’t saying anything.”

After Gauff confessed that she had been in “a dark place” following her unexpected first-round defeat here a year ago, Gilbert rose in the player’s box, attempting to soothe the world number two with hand signals and encouraging words. However, Navarro’s stellar performance rendered these efforts futile.

“We had a strategy going in, but I felt it wasn’t effective. I don’t normally seek advice from the box, but today was one of those rare occasions where I felt at a loss,” Gauff summarised despondently.

“I definitely need to learn from today because it won’t be the first or last time an opponent plays exceptionally well against me. I must figure out how to elevate my game in those moments.”

Fearless Tennis

The initial exchanges between the two Americans under the enclosed Centre Court roof offered little hint of the ensuing drama. Gauff seemed on track for another straightforward victory as she secured a 3-1 lead in the first set. However, facing an opponent who continued to believe and play a fearless brand of tennis, Gauff appeared to lose her grip as her winners dwindled and errors mounted. Navarro immediately broke back after Gauff sent a backhand long to conclude a 13-shot rally. When the world number two squandered two break points in the subsequent game, Navarro’s momentum became unstoppable.

A stunning forehand into the corner clinched the first set for Navarro, who then broke for a 3-1 lead in the second set, capitalising on another Gauff double fault followed by a forehand mistake. At this point, it seemed there was no way back for the second seed. Gauff, desperately seeking a way out, vented her frustration at her box. Instead of being distracted by the ruckus across the net, Navarro realised she had successfully unsettled her opponent.

As Navarro moved closer to securing a quarter-final berth in a major tournament for the first time, it was her father Ben, a billionaire businessman, who struggled to keep his nerves in check, often burying his face in his arms.

His daughter, on the other hand, remained focused on the goal. Despite missing her first two match points, she finally ended Gauff’s challenge on her third opportunity when Gauff hit a forehand into the net.

“I don’t usually give the other side of the court much energy. I keep it on my side. Seeing her get frustrated and looking towards her box, throwing her arms up, it definitely boosts my confidence a bit,” said Navarro, who had also beaten four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka in the second round.

“Knowing that your strategy is working as planned gives you some momentum and the energy you need,” she added.

Navarro’s next opponent will be Italian Jasmine Paolini, who is the highest remaining seed in the bottom half of the draw at number seven.

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