American teen sensation Coco Gauff fought “fire with fire” to come through a tension-fuelled second round against Marketa Vondrousova in Dubai on Tuesday, to join seeds Karolina Pliskova and Aryna Sabalenka in the last-16 stage.
Contesting a seventh consecutive three-set match, Gauff needed two hours to dismiss the Czech No12 seed 3-6, 6-0, 6-4 and set up a third-round meeting with qualifier Tereza Martincova.
The contest took on an edge when 16-year-old Gauff complained to the umpire about how Vondrousova was catching her ball toss with her racquet instead of letting it bounce or capturing it with her hand, which she believed to be against the rules.
The incident sparked some tension between the pair as the match unfolded.
At one point Gauff aimed directly at Vondrousova’s body on a drive volley at the net and did not apologise. The Czech also forewent the courtesy apology when she claimed a point via a lucky net cord.
“My personality, I fight fire with fire,” Gauff later said of the incident.
“I lost those two points that game, and she had wild screams, and I like to scream, so I screamed back.”
Gauff, who hit a career-high ranking of 38 last week, is hoping to continue her impressive rise with the goal of being seeded at the next grand slam.
The popular youngster turns 17 on Saturday, the day of the Dubai final and she admitted that getting that far would be the perfect way to celebrate her birthday on her tournament debut.
“That’s definitely a big motivation,” said the Florida-based Gauff.