Sonay Kartal takes confidence from her first-set performance against Coco Gauff

Sonay Kartal will target qualification for the US Open and more matches against the best after her impressive Wimbledon campaign ended in the third round with a straight-sets loss to Coco Gauff.

British number nine Kartal only won three games at the All England Club last year, but managed more than that against Gauff and even broke the American in the first set on Court One.

Kartal held her own in several long rallies before Gauff eventually proved too strong with a 6-4 6-0 victory, but she could be proud of her week’s work in SW19, which has pocketed the Brighton right-hander £143,000 in prize money and memories to last a lifetime.

Sonay Kartal shakes hands with Coco Gauff
Sonay Kartal shakes hands with Coco Gauff (Aaron Chown/PA)

“I think today was a really good test for me. I’ve never come out with someone like Coco before,” Kartal said.

“My first set today, that set and the whole week has given me confidence to prove that my level is up there.

“This week was a bit unexpected for me, I’m not going to lie. I didn’t expect to be third round. So, yeah, there’s going to be a few schedule changes I think!

“It’s important for me now to play the bigger tournaments, play the bigger WTA tournaments, mix in with that level.

“Before this week I wasn’t sure if I was going to make US Open qualies or not, whereas now after this week I’ll be in there.

“For me, the best way for me to develop is to put myself out there against the higher-level players and almost be uncomfortable. I think that’s going to be what’s going to develop me.”

This was Kartal’s 12th grass-court match of a busy summer after she had to qualify to secure a third appearance in the Wimbledon main draw, having battled with undisclosed health problems for much of the past year.

Gutsy three-set wins over Sorana Cirstea and Clara Burel secured a plum tie against Gauff, which the world number 298 hoped would be on Centre Court.

A late-night slot on Court One was a decent consolation prize but Kartal lost the first eight points.

No obvious nerves appeared on show from the 22-year-old though, who had tried to keep up with Gauff’s powerful-hitting and duly did when the second seed sent her backhand long after a 15-shot rally to get Kartal off the mark.

Sonay Kartal leaps to hit a backhand
Sonay Kartal put up a fight against the world number two (John Walton/PA)

Big cheers greeted the hold and a 104mph ace helped secure another before the home favourite fashioned two break points in the seventh game.

Gauff sent down a double-fault to get the first set back on serve, but consecutive backhand winners by the world number two, the first after a successful challenge, was enough to earn her a break back.

A wild forehand by Kartal gifted Gauff a break at the start of the second set.

It was largely one-way traffic after but Kartal delighted the crowd by saving three break points in the fifth game of the second set before she exited Court One to rapturous applause.

Coco Gauff waves to the Centre Court crowd
Coco Gauff is through to the fourth round (Aaron Chown/PA)

She added: “It was unbelievable. From walking out to walking off. They were behind me after every single point. I think it’s something that is truly special.

“That feeling of them in my ear when I was walking off, that moment is going to stick around a long time for me.

“I’m proud of not just today but my whole week and last week.”

Kartal also plans to mark her third-round run with a new tattoo.

“A few members of my team were throwing ideas of, like, strawberries and things like that,” she said.

“Maybe there will be one. There probably will be, I’m not going to lie to you.”