Coco Gauff whacked her head with her racket and repeatedly jabbed her forehead with her long fingernails but no matter what the frustrated American teenager did, she could not find a way to rescue her Wimbledon dreams on Saturday (July 2).
As one of the most recognised faces at the All England Club, it often feels like Gauff has been competing at the championships for decades.
Yet it was only three years ago that the then 15-year-old school student announced herself to the world by turfing out her idol Venus Williams from the grasscourt major in the first round.
Since that incredible win, Gauff had never lost before the fourth round at Wimbledon — until Saturday.
Gauff’s Wimbledon challenge came unstuck in the third round when she was beaten by familiar foe Amanda Anisimova 6-7(4) 6-2 6-1 in an all-American showdown.
“It’s my first time playing on Centre Court and it’s the most special day of my career,” said a beaming Anisimova, who celebrated her triumph by collapsing on to her back.
“Before the match I was just trying to prepare myself to soak in this moment whether I win or lose but winning today is just so special and I am very grateful for this experience.”
The two Florida-based players had made their way through the junior ranks at the same time, with Anisimova thrashing Gauff to win the US Open junior title in 2017.
Hence when the duo walked on to Centre Court on the sixth day of these championships, they were already all too familiar with each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
During the opening exchanges, 11th seed Gauff threatened to wallop Anisimova as she had two break points to go 4-0 up. An error from the now 18-year-old Gauff and a smash from her opponent kept 20th seed Anisimova alive in that game.
From then on, Anisimova began to work her way back into the contest, winning the next four games to nudge 4-3 ahead in what turned out to be a tight, yet topsy-turvy, first set.
When Anisimova smacked a forehand into the net to surrender the opening-set tiebreak, Gauff shook Centre Court with a roar of “Come on”.
At that stage, only one point separated the two players with Gauff having bagged 51 of the 101 points contested.
But Anisimova refused to roll over and, despite an early exchange of breaks in the second set, she jumped ahead 3-1. From then on, she was determined to make her debut on tennis’s most famous stage a day to remember as she ran away with 10 of the next 12 games.
A backhand winner not only sealed her a place in the last 16 here for the first time, it also earned her a Tour-leading 13th three-set win this season.
Anisimova will meet Serena Williams’s conqueror Harmony Tan for a place in the quarter-finals.