Determined U.S. Open Semifinal Win Brings Coco Gauff One Step Closer to Finishing the Job….. It Is Not Over Yet She Says

The then 17-year-old stated, “You know how at concerts, they have a big artist, then a smaller artist comes before them?” she said. “That’s what I kind of like to think of it as. It’s pretty cool. Roger definitely has a big influence on my mentality on and off the court. He’s always someone that I can go and talk to if I need advice.”


On a suffocating night in New York City, Coco Gauff—playing in her first Grand Slam semifinal, and all of 19 years old—fought herself, fought her opponent, and fought a surprise break in the match caused by climate protesters, to win her tense match against Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic, 6-4, 7-5, and advance to Saturday’s final, marking the arrival of a new American player prepared to take women’s tennis into its future.
None of this analysis can be called hyperbolic. The full Gauff was on display in New York City, and it’s really something to behold. To wit: Gauff got off to a lightning start against Muchova, racing to a 5-1 lead in the first set. Gauff was on serve, ready to make swift work of this first stanza. She won the first point with her most impressive shot of the match, up to that moment— she’d one-up it later on—a lunging lob that she tucked right in front of the baseline, drawing loud cheers from the partisan crowd.But Gauff is still 19, and her inexperience showed. With every bit of momentum in her favor, she lost concentration and moxie, and let Muchova back into the match.

Determined U.S. Open Semifinal Win Brings Coco Gauff One Step Closer to Finishing the Job..... It Is Not Over Yet She Says

Gauff inexplicably gave her opponent new life, and Muchova took ample advantage. She broke Gauff, held serve, and then Gauff sent a weak shot into the net to give Muchova another break, and cut Gauff’s advantage to 5-4.
Gauff, however, reached down deep to quell a disaster. She may be 19, but she’s learned how to win: right before the U.S. Open, in August, she clinched the most important tournament victory of her young career, besting Muchova in the final of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. She’s won nine straight matches coming into this semi. And it showed in that final game of the first set: Gauff kept her composure, returned Muchova’s serve and kept the ball in play, allowing Muchova to make all the errors. Then, one of the more bizarre moments in the U.S. Open history unfolded. Gauff held serve in the first game of the second set, but suddenly a persistent shouting could be heard from the upper level of Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Determined U.S. Open Semifinal Win Brings Coco Gauff One Step Closer to Finishing the Job..... It Is Not Over Yet She Says


A group of spectators protesting climate change disrupted the event: security was able to remove three of the protesters, but a fourth one affixed his bare feet to the floor. Police officers and medical personnel surrounded the protester in the stands: in the chaos in the crowded halls of the stadium, security guards ordered fans to clear a path, even though they were scrunched together, some trying to capture the scene on camera phones, others filling the beer and food lines during the delay.Gauff and Muchova retreated to their locker rooms. After about 10 minutes, Gauff said, she changed clothes and ate a bar. Finally, the fourth protester was removed: all four were taken into police custody, according to the U.S. Tennis Association, and in all, it took 49 minutes for play to resume. This isn’t the first environmental protest to interrupt a Grand Slam: at Wimbledon in July, protesters stopped play by throwing confetti onto a court.

Determined U.S. Open Semifinal Win Brings Coco Gauff One Step Closer to Finishing the Job..... It Is Not Over Yet She Says

Tennis is an ideal forum for such disruption: since fans have to stay silent between points, those who want to shout, like the protesters Thursday, stand out. Plus, the game is played outside, in increasingly hotter temperatures. Arthur Ashe Stadium was a Thursday night sweatbox. Tennis can expect more of these kinds of delays going forward. After the match, Gauff said she expected some kind of protest at the U.S. Open, given the action at Wimbledon, but admitted she would have preferred a disruption not come in the middle of her match, when things were going her way.“I wanted the momentum to keep going,” says Gauff. “But hey, if that’s what they felt like they needed to do to get their voice heard, I can’t really get upset.”


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