MELBOURNE, Australia — It might be easy to forget that Coco Gauff is only 18. After all, she’s been winning Grand Slams for 3 1/2 years. We have already reached one major final. Moved into the top 10 of the WTA rankings in singles and doubles.

So Gauff was proud of how she handled the situation when she came within two points of being taken out by Emma Radukana in the third set at the Australian Open on Wednesday in the first head-to-head meeting between the two young tennis stars.

“I kept my composure when I needed to and executed the serve when I needed to. Held when needed. I think that definitely comes with maturity,” Gauff said. “I feel like in the past, I would have gone crazy at that point.”

Instead, she held her own with a 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over 20-year-old Radukana at Rod Laver Arena to reach the third round at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2020.

“The fans really want to see a new face to the game,” said the seventh-seeded Gauff, who finished second to No. 1 Iggy Sveontek at the French Open last June.

Raducanu has not advanced past the second round at a Grand Slam since she won the 2021 US Open as a teenager. This made her the first qualifier to win a major trophy.

“We are going to play each other many times in the future as we are both young and ahead,” said Radukanu. “You know, we’re going to be the next generation.”

Radukanu, currently ranked 77th, has been nursing an ankle injury and said she was on crutches 10 days before the start of the Australian Open. However, she came very close to extending the match, holding a pair of set points to take a 5-4 lead in the second set.

At the first chance, Radukan had a long backhand. On the second, she dropped a drop shot attempt at the net.

This helped Gauff hold the serve.

Part of her success in this match and many others is Gauff’s ability to track down her opponents hit after hit, using her speed and anticipation to play defense until she can go on offense.

“You feel like you have to push it closer to the line,” Raducanu said, “and that’s how it draws mistakes out of you.”

More mistakes by Radukan turned the tiebreak — and the match — in Gauff’s favor.

“I kept reminding myself, ‘It’s the second set. You won the set. She must win this set to stay in the match. You know at what level you play. In the third set, you have a very good chance of winning,” Gauf said afterwards. “I was just trying to focus on what was in front of me and not look too far into the future.”

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