The remarkable story of Cori Gauff continues as she rallied for a 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5 victory over Polona Hercog in the third round of Wimbledon. The 15-year old American saved two match points in the second set en route to a Round of 16 showdown with seventh seed Simona Halep.
The Slovenian, coming off of an upset of Madison Keys in the previous round, raced out to a 6-3, 5-2 lead only to see Gauff come roaring back to take a close second set tiebreaker before falling behind 4-1 in the final set. Gauff gave her advantage away, but broke in the 12th game for victory.
Gauff continues fairytale run into fourth round with epic comeback
If there were any nerves on her Centre Court debut, Gauff wasn't showing any signs of it as she posted two early holds to take the early lead. A correct challenge on the Hercog serve kept the 15-year old in the game, but the Slovenian fired off a winner to hold for 3-3.
The world number 60, also on the world's biggest court for the first time, made the initial breakthrough as a floating slice landed square on the line, called in after a challenge, set up a break point and Hercog ripped off a forehand winner to claim a 4-3 edge.
The Lugano champion held to love and watched Gauff self-destruct as she double faulted three times and was broken to love to hand Hercog the opening set. The Slovenian got through a challenging service game to open the second set and at 15-40 saw the American save the first break point, but not the second as she netted a forehand.
After Hercog recorded another game to run her streak to seven on the trot, Gauff posted a hold to finally stop the rot. Although she started to come forward with authority, the American could do nothing on the Slovenian's serve as Hercog moved to a 5-2 advantage.
The comeback began in the next game as Gauff saved a match point with a gutsy slice backhand that just clipped the line which led to a hold. An ace at 30-30 gave Hercog a second match point, but she double-faulted, owing to nerves for the first time as she would go on to be broken.
Both ladies held out, Gauff rescuing a game from deuce, to send the second set tiebreak. The breaker went back and forth, Hercog ascending to a 5-3 lead, Gauff winning the next three points, the American eventually withstanding a barrage of slices from her veteran opponent and at 8-7, she patiently waited to pull the trigger, eventually ending a 31-shot rally with a swinging forehand volley to send the match to a third set.
Serving first in the deciding set, Gauff was steady on serve to edge ahead 2-1. She held a break point on Hercog's serve, but wasted it. Given a second chance, she saw the Slovenian overhit on a forehand and a following hold gave the 15-year old a 4-1 advantage.
Hercog is not without her merits and she stormed back, claiming the next three games to even the score at 4-4. Serving to stay in the match, she overcame her own nerves to hold for 5-5, but was helpless on the Gauff serve as the American eased into a 6-5 lead.
Again serving to stay in the match, Hercog was pushed to deuce and after a meek error into the net that set up match point, a 17-point rally culminated when Gauff chased down a drop shot and watched as Hercog sent a lob long to end the two hour, 45 minute contest, the 15-year old's memorable fortnight continuing into week two.