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Indian Wells 2024: Coco Gauff Lands in Tricky Draw with Enticing Naomi Osaka Clash in the Offing for Fans

Published 03/04/2024, 8:31 PM EST

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As the draws for the Indian Wells 2024 tournament have been released, fans are eagerly analyzing the matchups, and one player who faces a challenging path is Coco Gauff. The young tennis sensation will have to navigate through some tough opponents if she wants to make a deep run in the tournament. And one of them is Naomi Osaka who Coco couldn’t “can’t thank enough” 4 years ago.

The 19-year-old has managed to keep her name at the top consistently. She may either face Wang or Clara Burel in her second-round match. The competition only gets tougher from there, as she is expected to meet Anhelina Kalinina in the third round. The reigning US Open champion is projected to meet 15th seed Liudmila Samsonova in the fourth round, but the Russian will likely have to get past former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka in the second round.

Osaka opens up against a qualifier, but given the four-time Grand Slam winner’s form at the Qatar Open, she could end up meeting Gauff in the quarters. The winner of the Sabalenka-Pegula sections will most likely meet Coco Gauff in the semi-final.

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Osaka, the four-time Grand Slam champion, recently returned to the tennis scene after a maternity leave. While the Japanese star faced an early exit at the Australian Open, she remains a formidable opponent seeking momentum in the current scenario. Based on her recent performance the crowd is eagerly waiting to see what form she would be in. It may not be long before the 26-year-old is back to her title-winning best.

On the other hand, Coco Gauff’s run for the Indian Wells title is set to be a rally of great matches consistently and the much-anticipated match-up would be against Osaka. The two have already faced each other 4 times in the past and have won 2 matches each. There is a special moment from one of those matches that will always remain close to Coco’s heart. She couldn’t thank Naomi enough for including her in the interview after the 2019 U.S. Open loss.

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Coco Gauff reminded Naomi Osaka of her younger days

After losing to the then-defending champion Naomi in straight sets Gauff wanted to leave the court immediately. When the pair exchanged words at the net, the former World No.1 asked then-15-year-old Coco if she could join her in the on-court interview. Coco denied it because she knew she’d be crying the whole time, but Naomi encouraged her to do it. Later, that turned into a joint on-court interview, at Osaka’s insistence with ESPN commentator Mary Joe Fernandez.

During the interview, the young tennis sensation said, “…I’m going to learn a lot from this match. And, she’s been so sweet to me, so thank you for this.” That moment with Naomi was so special and so unexpected to Gauff. Naomi expressed that when she shook her hand, she saw that Coco was teared up. Noami said, “Then it reminded me how young she was. … I was just thinking it would be nice for her to address the people that came and watched her play. They were cheering for her.”

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4 years later, When Coco won against Muchova during one of the 2023 US Open matches, she made sure to tell Osaka who was seated in the front row for the match as a fan, just how much that moment meant to her. She said, “Naomi, I remember the moment we had on this court … it meant a lot to me.” Tears turned to triumph in the 2023 US Open finals as Coco created history and became the first American teenager to win the women’s final at the US Open, since Serena Williams in 2001.

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Written by:

Akshay Kapoor

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Akshay Kapoor, a tennis writer at EssentiallySports, excels in crafting pieces that set new trends. His analytical skills riding on the back of certification in Digital Marketing help inject in-depth research as he covers the business undertakings of Tennis stars. Akshay’s articles touch the entire tennis spectrum, from iconic figures like Djokovic and emerging talents such as Holger Rune and Coco Gauff.
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