Teenage phenomenon Coco Gauff missed out on her first Grand Slam quarter-final as fellow American Sofia Kenin fought back to win in the Australian Open fourth round.
Gauff, 15, lost 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-0 to the 14th seed in Melbourne.
She showed all her undoubted quality in the first set, but tired in the third as Kenin wore her down.
Kenin will next face Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who beat Serena Williams’ conqueror Wang Qiang in straight sets.
After a warm embrace at the net, Kenin and Gauff broke out in tears following an intense battle on Melbourne Arena.
Kenin, 21, dropped her racquet and cupped her face with both hands after taking her second match point to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final.
An emotional Gauff received a standing ovation as she walked off the court, understandably disappointed at the manner of her defeat but with the likelihood of much better moments ahead of her.
“I was just fighting,” Kenin said. “She played some good points at crucial moments but I just had to calm down and relax.”
Gauff falters as errors creep in
Gauff has become a global star in less than a year, announcing her arrival with a victory over seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Venus Williams at Wimbledon before ‘Cocomania’ surrounded her run to the last 16.
The hype returned at Melbourne Park after the Florida teenager, who turns 16 in March, produced an assured performance to knock out defending champion Naomi Osaka in the third round.
That was as much down to Osaka’s implosion as it was Gauff’s brilliance, however.
Against the streetwise Kenin, the question was always going to be whether she could soak up her opponent’s relentless returning and then play aggressively to ask questions of her own.
After a slow start where she lost the opening two games, Gauff rediscovered the things which have marked her out a potential great – hard-hitting from the baseline, fizzing angled winners and fleet of foot around the court – to break back for 4-4.
Gauff missed a set point on Kenin’s serve at 6-5 before the older American produced two double faults as Gauff eventually took the tie-break with her fourth set point.
Momentum swung back in Kenin’s direction early in the second set.
Gauff’s tendency to cough up double faults appeared again, three contributing heavily to Kenin breaking serve in the fourth game and pinching the advantage.
That proved pivotal as Gauff, with errors now starting to creep in, was unable to claw the break back.
In similar fashion to the opening set, the teenager started the decider slowly but this time could not recover.