In the second round of the WTA 1000 event in the Italian capital, the young American lost only one game, and her chances in Rome looked very positive. However, in the third round, she took on Marie Bouzkova from the Czech Republic and despite saying that there's only one way up from low, Gauff experienced another setback.
The much-anticipated duel, originally slated for a Saturday night clash, had to be postponed to Sunday due to unrelenting rainfall, adding a layer of suspense to this Italian Open story for a fourth-round spot.
Despite a good start and winning the first set 6-4, Gauff wasn't able to keep the high level throughout the match as Bouzkova was able to bounce back and win the following two sets 6-2, 6-2, clinching the match in three sets.
This victory marks a significant milestone in Bouzkova's career, serving as her third Top 5 win and notably her first on clay. Her mindset on the court was really straightforward and she just wanted to keep fighting despite a bad start.
"Even after the first set, I just kept on fighting, and I kind of knew that I had to elevate my game to get the win today, and at least stay in the match. I think I did that pretty well, and then my service games started to work, and I just started to feel really comfortable on the court."
Rome, with its passionate crowds and unique conditions, seems to have a special place in Bouzkova's heart. Now, after an impressive run, the event will become even more loved by the Czech player as she's competing in Rome only for the second time in her career.
"I love to play here. I think in Europe, it might be my favorite tournament. I didn’t play here last year, so I was really looking forward to playing here. I like the conditions and I like the crowd here, it gives me so much energy."
Bouzkova's journey continues against the 11th-seeded Veronika Kudermetova, and her determination coupled with the energy derived from the Italian Open crowd may prove to be an exciting combination. On the other hand, Gauff's early exit will shift her focus to the upcoming Roland Garros where she's the defending finalist.