Coco Gauff storms into Australian Open second week, seals fellow American Alycia Parks

Playing in her first Australian Open main draw, Parks has enjoyed an impressive rise up the rankings since capturing her first WTA title last fall in Lyon, but her major breakthrough finally came in Melbourne, where she edged through back-to-back wins in straight sets over Daria Snigur and 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez.

Still, the big-serving 23-year-old was overmatched from the outset as the No. 4-seeded Gauff picked her apart on return, rolling through the first six games before Parks was able to get on the board.

“Definitely return of serve was tough because she’s a big server, so you’re not going to be able to strike as much as you want to, so I think I did a good job with that. Also, I mixed the height and pace of the ball; she’s a big hitter who like it fast, so I was just trying my best to be aggressive when I could but playing with margin.”

Aiming to pressure Gauff in the second set, a double fault and a pair of loose forehands from Parks handed the initaitve back to the 19-year-old, who consolidated the break with an ace and soon found herself within four points of the fourth round.

It was a clean performance from Gauff on Friday, striking just eight unforced errors to 34 from Parks. Though she saved a match point with a fearsome backhand down the line, a missed return from Parks sent Gauff over the finish line in just over an hour.

Standing between Gauff and a first trip to the last eight at the Australian Open will be either Magdalena Fręch or qualifier Anastasia Zakharova.

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