New York | Gauff survives night opener as Wozniacki wins on return

The first night session of the US Open saw Coco Gauff come from a set down to prevail against Laura Siegemund on Arthur Ashe Stadium in front of former president Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, while on Louis Armstrong Stadium, tennis royalty Caroline Wozniacki won her first match back at the Big Apple after 3 years, and Petra Kvitova and Jelena Ostapenko also advanced safely into round 2.

Then Mr. Obama was there in the room, too. I was like, 'Oh, my God'... I haven't soaked it in because I literally just walked in here. I think I'm going to never forget that moment for the rest of my life. I went from being really upset after a win to, like, being really happy. So I'm glad I got to meet them. They gave me some good advice, too. Coco Gauff

After Gauff’s 3-6 6-2 6-4 win, the former 1st Lady, Michelle Obama, went down on the court to participate in a tribute to Billie Jean King marking the 50th anniversary of the US Open becoming the first major sports event to pay equal prize money to women.

“I didn’t see them in the Presidential Box,” Gauff said later about the Obamas. “I was obviously looking at that, but they weren’t, I guess, in my eyeline. But afterward, they told me they wanted to say hi.”

Initially, Gauff explained, word came that she would have some time with Michelle Obama.

“Then Mr. Obama was there in the room, too. I was like, ‘Oh, my God,” Gauff said with a big smile at her post match news conference. “I haven’t soaked it in because I literally just walked in here.

“I think I’m going to never forget that moment for the rest of my life. I went from being really upset after a win to, like, being really happy. So I’m glad I got to meet them. They gave me some good advice, too.”

“She said it’s good to speak up for myself,” the 19-year old American said. “I think she was happy that I spoke up for myself today.”

Gauff was referring to a discussion with the chair umpire about the way Siegemund was taking so much time between points.

Her biggest frustration was Siegemund repeatedly keeping her waiting, especially early in the last set, and when Gauff was serving at 3-0 up, she went to chair umpire Marijana Veljovic to complain, which prompted a warning.

“She’s never ready when I’m serving. … How is this fair?” Gauff told Veljovic. “I’m going a normal speed. Ask any ref here. … I’ve been quiet the whole match. … Now it’s ridiculous. I don’t care what she’s doing on her serve, but [on] my serve, she has to be ready.”

Gauff wound up dropping that game, but then not another and, later, Siegemund was docked a point for delaying, which put Gauff up 5-1.

“I can’t go to the towel anymore?” Siegemund argued to Veljovic, drawing jeers from the crowd.

Serving for the match at 5-2, Gauff coughed up 3 double-faults, her only ones in the 2 hour, 51-minute skirmish, but, in the end, she held on to score her 12th win in 13 matches since her disappointing showing at Wimbledon.

The American’s recent run has include the two biggest titles of Gauff’s career, and a win over World No 1 Iga Swiatek, who she could very well meet again in the quarter-finals here in New York.

Former President of the United States Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama were cheering on Coco Gauff on Monday night on Arthur Ashe Stadium

© Sarah Stier/Getty Images

It wasn’t plain sailing though, because, already down a set, Gauff found herself locked in a marathon of a 30-point, 25-plus-minute game to begin the second set, which was to prove pivotal.

With a packed house partisan New York fans getting rowdier by the moment, the No 6 seed finally converted on her 8th break point of that game, before romping home to pocket the set, and eventually the win.

Gauff, who attracted an A-list crowd to her 1st-round match, with, in addition to the Obamas, Mike Tyson, Alec Baldwin, Anna Wintour and Danny DeVito all also on hand, takes on 16-year old Mirra Andreeva next.

The Russian, ranked 139, had to dig deep to get past Olivia Gadecki in a contest that an opening set of one-way traffic went in favour of the Australian.

Andreeva could find no answers to any of her opponent’s questions, and, after only 28 minutes, Gadecki won the opening set against the young prodigy.

Starting the second set with a break, Gadecki came very close to shocking the younger player, but, despite trailing by a set and a break, Andreeva never gave up, and won 5 consecutive games to eventually force a decider.

The third set of the match was really close, but small margins mattered and the crucial rallies were played better by the 16-year-old, who, after 2 hours and 4 minutes won the match, 1-6 6-3 6-4.

Caroline Wozniacki beat Tatiana Prozorova in straight sets to open her first US Open campaign since 2019

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Elsewhere, former World No 1 Wozniacki marked her return to Grand Slam action with a 6-3 6-2 win over Russian qualifier Tatiana Prozorova on Monday to reach the 2nd-round at the US Open.

Wozniacki is competing in her 3rd tournament since returning to the tour in Montréal and playing in Cincinnati this month after retiring in 2020 to start a family, but the great Dane’s vast experience shone through against the 19-year-old.

“It feels amazing to be back,” said Wozniacki. ”Obviously I was very nervous coming out here, I haven’t been here since 2019, and a lot has happened since then.

“It just feels amazing to have the chance out here on this big court, playing a night session and getting a win under my belt. It feels so special.”

Both players surrendered serve early in the match before the 33-year-old Wozniacki stepped up the pressure from 3-3, breaking her opponent twice more on the back of some relentless returns to win the opening set.

Wozniacki shifted up another gear following a delayed start to the next set due to Prozorova’s medical timeout, as the Dane sealed a crucial point after a 30-shot rally en route to grabbing a 3-1 lead.

The former Australian Open champion wobbled on serve at 5-1, but broke Prozorova immediately afterwards to close out the win.

“Obviously it only gets tougher from here. I’m playing Petra next, someone I know very well and have played many, many times. I kind of know what to expect,” Wozniacki said. “I’ve got to play better next match to beat her, but so does she. I think it’s going to be an exciting one. It’s going to be a good match out there.”

Her next opponent is Czech 11th seed Petra Kvitova, who booked her place with a 6-1 7-6(5) win over Spain’s Cristina Bucsa, has won 8 of their 14 previous meetings.

(L to R) Chairman of the Board and President of the USTA Brian Hainline, 15-year old Gabi Bell of Brooklyn, New York, American former World No 1 Billie Jean King, former First Lady Michelle Obama, and American singer, songwriter, and pianist Sara Bareilles pose following a ceremony celebrating 50 years of equal pay at the US Open on Monday night

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

In other late Monday results, Russian Elina Avanesyan edged out France’s Alizé Cornet, 6-2 1-6 6-4, to advance to a 2nd-round contest with Jelena Ostapenko, the 20th seed from Latvia, who beat Italian Jasmine Paolini, 6-2 4-6, 6-1; while China’s Xiyu Wang edged out Slovak lucky loser Viktoria Hruncakova, 4-6 6-3 7-6(6), setting up a meeting with Bernarda Pera, after the American upset Veronika Kudermetova from Russia, 7-5 6-4; and Poland’s Magda Linette, the No 24 seed, defeated Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich, 6-3 6-1. to advance to the second round of the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.



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