Déjà vu all over again seems to be the theme of Coco Gauff’s Australian Open. The 15-year-old sensation opened the major tournament on Monday with a match against Venus Williams—a replay of the showdown that vaulted her into the international spotlight last year when she upset the seven-time Grand Slam winner. Now, after a hard-earned second-round win, all eyes will be on Gauff as she faces off, once again, against No. 3 seed, Naomi Osaka.
The upcoming match has more than a few parallels to their first meeting at the US Open five months ago: Gauff—a fresh talent with grit and polish beyond her years— of is once again a crowd favorite, though she comes into this match an underdog. Osaka is again the defending champ, while Gauff is making her tournament debut.
Osaka handily beat Gauff in their first match, but while the actual play may have been forgettable, their display of sisterhood at the net afterward was not. Osaka comforted an emotional Coco after she lost and invited her to the post-match interview—a privilege typically given only to the winner. It was a memorable and generous moment, speaking to the deep respect and care the two competitors had for each other.
A more seasoned player than she was even five months ago, Gauff will have the opportunity to show how much she’s grown on Friday’s match. Osaka, meanwhile, has looked strong in the tournament so far, and a repeat Grand Slam win could cement her status as the women’s tennis player to watch.
One thing that’s clear: these two women are as eager to play each other as we are to watch them.
“It’s amazing what different personalities can bring to the sport,” Osaka said of Gauff, according to the Guardian. “Since she is so young, she has brought so much interest and a new wave. She played doubles in one of the stadiums at the US Open last year and it was full. That is not normal and I don’t think it is something that can be taken for granted.”
“I know what to expect in the next round. She’s a great competitor,” Gauff said of Osaka. “I know it’s going to be a good one.”