Gauff Still On Track To Become New World No. 2 Despite Shock Defeat To Keys In Madrid

Gauff Still On Track To Become New World No. 2 Despite Shock Defeat To Keys In Madrid

by Nurein Ahmed

Coco Gauff suffered an early exit at this year's Madrid Open, but the young American's saving grace is that she might end up at a career-high ranking after the tournament.

Gauff lost to compatriot Madison Keys in a topsy-turvy fourth-round match. It's her second defeat of this year's clay swing, having lost to Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk in the quarterfinal of Stuttgart almost two weeks ago.

The defeat to Keys extends a worrying trend for Gauff, who has now lost her sixth match of the season against players ranked outside the Top 10. Her serve contributed to her latest loss.

The 20-year-old only served one ace but committed as many as 13 double faults in an unpredictable match. There were 14 breaks in the contest, with each player accounting for half of them. Gauff even won more points than Keys in the match, but it was the 18th seed who won the decisive points.

Before the tournament, Gauff was in the ascendancy to replace Aryna Sabalenka as World No. 2. Now that she has lost in the fourth round, Gauff will finish the tournament with 7313 points.

In the live rankings, the US Open champion has climbed to World no. 2. But to stay there, she will need Sabalenka to lose before the final. The Belarusian's path to the championship match is far from straightforward.

Sabalenka plays in-form Danielle Collins in the late-night match. If she loses to the American, then Gauff will secure the World No. 2 ranking. However, if Sabalenka wins, then all eyes will be on the second seed's progress at the tournament.

Reaching the final would take her points tally to 7498, which would eclipse that of Gauff. Since winning the Australian Open in January, Sabalenka has yet to reach another WTA final. In fact, she is aiming for just her second quarterfinal since departing Melbourne.


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