2019 US Open Day 4: Gauff survives thriller, Townsend stuns Wimbledon champ Halep

Cori "Coco" Gauff beat <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/olympics/rio-2016/a/1177151/" data-ylk="slk:Timea Babos">Timea Babos</a> of Hungary on Thursday night to advance to the third round of the US Open in New York. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Cori "Coco" Gauff beat Timea Babos of Hungary on Thursday night to advance to the third round of the US Open in New York. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Here’s a recap of Thursday’s action from the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Coco Gauff survives thriller to set up match with Osaka

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It took until the very end, but Coco Gauff is moving on to the third round at the US Open.

Gauff survived a second-round thriller with Hungarian Timea Babos on Thursday night, winning 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

The 15-year-old will now advance to the third round, where she’ll take on No. 1 seed and defending champion Naomi Osaka. She is now the youngest player to reach the third round of the tournament since 1996 — nearly eight years before Gauff was born.

Taylor Townsend stuns Wimbledon champ Simona Halep

Thursday saw one of the biggest upsets so far at the US Open when unseeded American Taylor Townsend upset Wimbledon champion and No. 4 seed Simona Halep in the second round.

Halep cruised to a 6-2 victory in the first set. But Townsend responded with a dominant 6-3 second-set victory before winning the third in a tiebreak thriller for a 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) win over the two-time grand slam champion.

“This means a lot,” Townsend said during her on-court interview as she choked back tears. “It’s been a long journey. ... I’ve had some really close matches this year and just haven’t been able to get over the hump. This match means so much and it gives me so much confidence to know that I can do it.

“I think when I’ve played her before, I was just trying to make balls. I think I played not to lose. And today I just played to win. I just said F it.”

Townsend played an aggressive game, with ESPN stats showing she approached the net more than 100 times during the match.

Townsend, 23, won the Australian Open junior championship at 15 years old, but had yet to break through on a grand slam stage. Holding a WTA ranking of 116 heading into the tournament, Townsend had to qualify just to get to this point.

She now has her grand slam breakthrough moment.

For Halep, it’s another disappointing exit at the US Open after losing in the first round in 2017 and 2018.

Townsend advances to face Romania’s Sorana Cirstea in third-round play.

Nick Kyrgios cruised to second-round win

After a heated opening match on Tuesday, Nick Kyrgios had no issue getting out of the second round of the US Open on Thursday night.

Kyrgios, the No. 28 seed, easily beat France’s Antoine Hoang in straight sets 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.

Thanks to the win, Kyrgios will now take on Russia’s Andrey Rublev in the third round. Rublev beat France’s Gilles Simon on Thursday, who retired after the first set.

Rafael Nadal advances after opponent withdraws

Rafael Nadal got a free pass to the third round Thursday when Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis withdrew prior to their scheduled matchup on Arthur Ashe Court.

Kokkinakis is reportedly dealing with a right shoulder injury.

Nadal will face the winner between Spain’s Fernando Verdasco and South Korea’s Hyeon Chung.

Naomi Osaka cruises to win over Magda Linette

Naomi Osaka cruised to a win and is on to round 3. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Naomi Osaka cruised to a win and is on to round 3. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka needed less than 75 minutes to beat Magda Linette and advance to the third round. The defending US Open women’s champion had a brief wobble but largely dominated in her 6-2, 6-4 win.

After dropping two of the first three games, Osaka cruised to win the first set easily, 6-2. She started slow in the second set too, dropping the first three games to Linette. She almost dropped the fourth game, but came back to win and never looked back. She won five straight games, and after Linette got one back, closed out with amazing speed.

She did it all in front of some very famous faces, too. Kobe Bryant and Colin Kaepernick were in the stands watching her play.

During her post-match interview, she thanked them for coming and sitting in the hot sun and said she tried to get the match done as quickly as possible so they wouldn’t have to sit there for too long.

Andrea Petkovic upsets No. 6 Petra Kvitova

Petkovic delivered a stunning upset to No. 6 seed Kvitova on Thursday, knocking her out of the US Open in the second round. Petkovic defeated Kvitova 6-4, 6-4, but the score doesn’t completely reflect how close and competitive the match was. Kvitova battled hard, against both Petkovic and her own rustiness — she’d been out of commission for most of the summer due to a forearm issue. And Petkovic had won just eight main draw matches all year until she landed took the court at the US Open.

Petkovic, who came back from a deficit in the second set to win the match, was thoroughly pumped after her hard fought win. But she gave a lot of respect and love to Kvitova in her post-match interview.

“I feel so happy,” Petkovic said. “I think Petra is one of my favorite players and people on Tour. It’s always so tough when I play against her and I’m so happy.”

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