Coco Gauff battles back from the brink to win rollercoaster match in third round of Wimbledon

Coco Gauff battled back from almost certain elimination to beat <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/olympics/rio-2016/a/1210835/" data-ylk="slk:Polona Hercog">Polona Hercog</a> in the third round at Wimbledon. (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Coco Gauff battled back from almost certain elimination to beat Polona Hercog in the third round at Wimbledon. (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

The fairytale continues for 15-year-old Coco Gauff. She beat Polona Hercog 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 in the third round at Wimbledon, battling back from an almost certain loss in her first-ever match on Center Court.

Gauff didn’t start the match looking good. She couldn’t get comfortable on the court, and at one point lost seven straight games to Hercog. She struggled with double faults and unforced errors, and at various times Hercog was just better.

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But Gauff wouldn’t stop fighting. She managed to win a game to break Hercog’s rhythm, and she wasn’t done. Hercog had a match point at 5-2 and was just seconds from victory when she double faulted and the momentum started to change. Gauff converted her first break point of the entire match and took the game, and then won two more with the crowd roaring behind her to tie the second set at five games.

They played a tight tiebreaker once it reached 6-6, and Gauff battled and battled. She needed three set points to get it done, but after being down 5-2 with one point between her and the locker room, she won the set.

The third set looked like it belonged to Gauff, who went up 4-1 with very little difficulty. But then Hercog started to come back. She tied it up at 4-4, and the momentum and drive Gauff had seemed to be gone. But Gauff won the very next game, and eventually won the set and the match at 7-5.

The crowd had Gauff’s back from the start. They not only cheered anytime she won a point, but they also cheered at Hercog’s mistakes. Poor Hercog did nothing to deserve that (and thankfully they didn’t boo her), but the crowd was firmly behind the 15-year-old who, save for a few cheers and fist pumps when the game turned around, was calm and focused through the entire match.

There was also plenty of cheering at home. Gauff’s parents own a sports bar in Delray Beach, Fla., and there was a watch party there on Friday.

Gauff won a long, tough match on Friday. Hopefully she finds time to rest up before she takes on the world No. 7, Simona Halep, in the fourth round.

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