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It's been an amazing experience, admits Gauff after fairytale is ended by Halep

 

Too good: Simona Halep turns on the power during her triumph
Too good: Simona Halep turns on the power during her triumph
Cori Gauff

By Andy Sims

Cori Gauff admitted the last couple of weeks have been "crazy" after her fairytale Wimbledon run was halted by former World No.1 Simona Halep.

The 15-year-old has been the break-out player of the Championships, charming and thrilling SW19 with sensational wins over her idol Venus Williams, Magdalena Rybarikova and Polona Hercog.

She has become a worldwide star, received messages of support from the likes of Michelle Obama and rapper Jaden Smith, and earned a cool £176,000 in the process.

Halep, who as recently as February was top of the world rankings, finally ended American Gauff's adventure with a 6-3 6-3 win on Court One.

But it was still not a bad week's work for a teenager in the middle of her exams - Gauff took a science test the night before her final qualifier and will be back studying when she gets home.

"I literally have two weeks left, I probably could have been finished if I didn't play this, but I'm so close," she said.

"My teachers definitely let me take a break a little so I could focus on my matches. I still want to go to college. It's kind of like a requirement, I guess, from my parents.

"It's crazy how big this has got. Some of the celebrities that tweeted me I didn't even know followed tennis. They probably don't follow tennis.

"The support from the crowd was really surprising because you don't really expect this kind of support when you're in another country, not your home country.

"I really did feel like I was probably playing in New York or somewhere.

"These past two weeks have been amazing. I'm excited to be back next year."

Gauff, known as 'Coco', went toe-to-toe with Halep, again showing no signs of being daunted in such illustrious company.

There were nerves, understandably, and Gauff's serve came under immediate scrutiny with Halep securing a break in the first game.

Gauff broke straight back, then held, and suddenly Halep had the jitters with a double fault, although she too held serve for 2-2.

Break point down, Gauff casually volleyed a winner with all the poise that you would expect from the seasoned Grand Slam winner that she was facing.

However, Halep's experience told as she secured another break on her way to winning the first set.

The signs were ominous when Halep went 2-0 up in the second, but yet again Gauff hit back, before asking for a doctor courtside.

She admitted afterwards she did not feel 100 per cent throughout the match, as evidenced by some laboured work at points, but still came from 0-30 to hold for 2-2.

Halep has been there and done it, though, and once again the 27-year-old turned the screw to move 5-2 up.

Although Gauff saved a couple of match points on her serve - one with another wonderfully nonchalant volley - Halep eventually ensured her Wimbledon adventure came to an end, for this year at least.

"I hope they learned about me that I'm a fighter. I'll never give up. I hope they learned from me that anything is possible if you work hard, just continue to dream big," Gauff said.

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