"Like Federer and Nadal": Coco Gauff discusses rivalry with Naomi Osaka

Coco Gauff Naomi Osaka

Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka are set to face each other for the fourth time tomorrow when the two meet in the second round of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic.

Gauff cruised to a comfortable 6-1, 6-0 win over Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina in the first round, while Osaka progressed past Qinwen Zheng of China after a three-set match.

There is a strong mutual respect between the two tennis stars and Gauff has compared their competitiveness to that of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

The 19-year-old rising star revealed she and Osaka are very competitive when they meet on the court but off it, they hugely value each other.

“From a competitive standpoint it would be like Federer and Nadal. I mean emotion-wise,” Gauff told WTA Insider. “When we’re on court, we’re going to fight really hard against each other but off the court we have nothing but respect for each other for what we do on and off the court.”

Federer and Nadal have one of the most famous on-court rivalries of all-time but they are also good friends outside of tennis. The iconic duo have played each other 40 times, also mostly on hard court surfaces.

Osaka is a four-time Grand Slam champion who famously beat Serena Williams at the US Open in 2018 to win her first major tournament title. Gauff reached her first Grand Slam final earlier this year at the French Open but lost to world number one and reigning champion Iga Swiatek, who was unbeaten in 35 matches.

Cori Gauff of the United States reacts against Paula Badosa of Spain during the Qatar TotalEnergies Open – Day Four at Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex on February 23, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Mohamed Farag/Getty Images)

Gauff vs Osaka record

From the previous three meetings between these two players, Osaka holds a 2-1 lead over Gauff.

The first time they were drawn against each other was back in 2019 at the US Open. Osaka won comfortably in straight sets to reach the fourth round and made headlines after comforting an emotional Gauff afterwards.

However, the teen caused upset to the defending champion at the 2020 Australian Open — knocking her out in the third round after her own straight set victory.

With one win each, the two most recently faced each other at the Cincinnati Masters last year and it was a much tougher affair for both players.

A thrilling tiebreaker match saw Gauff take the first set but Osaka rallied and produced a stunning comeback to reach the third round of the Ohio tournament.

Coco Gauff of the United States embraces Naomi Osaka of Japan after winning their Women’s Singles third round match during day five of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 24, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Their upcoming match at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic will be the third time they have played each other on US hard courts.

Gauff admitted she is looking forward to taking on Osaka again and paid homage to the Japanese star’s pedigree.

“I played her a lot of times and she’s obviously going to be a tough opponent,” she said. “Either way, win or lose, I think that the match is going to be great.

“She’s such a champion, on and off the court, so I guess those are the type of people that you want to play, and I look forward to playing those matches.” 

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Osaka complimented Gauff’s mentality and believes it won’t be long before the young star will win her first Grand Slam title.

“When I was her age, I would find myself getting frustrated and I would show it. I just think it’s really cool how she’s able to stay really neutral all the time.

“She’s been on the tour for a while and I think people don’t know that because of how young she is.”

Their match is set to get underway on Thursday, August 4th with timings yet to be confirmed.

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