Coco Gauff returns to Rebecca Marino of Canada during the Miami Open tennis tournament, Thursday, March 23, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Fla. AP
The No. 6-seeded Gauff, a 19-year-old from Florida, was critical of herself afterward, saying that her footwork wasn't great, that her mindset was off and that she played too defensively after serving for the victory at 5-3 in the second set.
“That’s kind of been where I’ve been messing up in all my matches this year. All the ones I’ve lost I think I lost because of that. I think it should be more used as a tool in a toolbox than as a weapon,” Gauff said. “I think I have to change my mentality in the game about not relying on that too much because I think sometimes I play a little bit too passive because I know I can get to balls.”
She heard chants of “Let’s go, Coco!” from spectators at the hard-court tournament as she overcame a 5-2 deficit in the opening set, then erased a pair of set points for Potapova in that tiebreaker. Gauff grabbed the set on her second chance with a cross-court backhand winner.
The 2022 French Open runner-up then seemed to be pulling away, going up a break in the second set at 5-3. But Gauff eased up and Potapova became more aggressive in their lengthy baseline back-and-forths, taking four games in a row on a sunny afternoon with the temperature above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (nearing 30 degrees Celsius).
When the 27th-seeded Potapova forced a third set with a backhand winner, she dropped her racket, clenched both fists, leaned forward and yelled.
“It was a very tough match. It was very physical and it was very hot out there," Potapova said. "I was trying to stay cool and just fight for every point and (not) think about the score, especially in the second set.”
Gauff briefly went up 2-1 in the deciding set, but would not collect another game. She wound up with 34 unforced errors -- compared to 20 winners -- and was broken six times in a match that lasted more than 2 1/2 hours.
“My mind just wasn’t all the way in today,” Gauff said.
When Gauff dumped a backhand return into the net to fall to 1-5 against seeded opponents this season, Potapova covered her mouth with a hand and shook her head. She had been 0-2 against Gauff previously, but now will move on to face No. 23 Zheng Qinwen in the fourth round.
Zheng beat No. 12 Liudmila Samsonova 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-3. Other third-round results included reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, who won the title at Indian Wells last weekend, coming back to beat Paula Badosa 3-6, 7-5, 6-3; No. 3 Jessica Pegula's 6-1, 7-6 (0) win over No. 30 Danielle Collins; No. 20 Magda Linette's 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-4 victory over three-time Miami Open champion Victoria Azarenka; and 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko’s 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory against No. 13 Beatriz Haddad Maia.
Several seeded men lost in second-round action, including No. 11 Cam Norrie, No. 15 Alex de Minaur, No. 17 Borna Coric, No. 18 Lorenzo Musetti, No. 19 Matteo Berrettini, No. 23 Dan Evans, No. 27 Sebastian Baez, No. 28 Yoshihito Nishioka and No. 32 Ben Shelton, the 2022 NCAA champion from the University of Florida who reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in January.
Coric was beaten 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 by 119th-ranked American qualifier Christopher Eubanks, who earned his first career victory over someone inside the top 50.
In the longest ATP match this season, No. 8 Hubert Hurkacz saved five match points and got past Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-7 (10), 7-6 (7), 7-6 (6) in 3 hours, 31 minutes. Other winners included No. 4 Daniil Medvedev and No. 12 Frances Tiafoe.
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