Coco Gauff rallied back from a first set 3-6 deficit to beat German qualifier Laura Siegemund Monday night in the first round of the U.S. Open. After winning a marathon 30-point, 25-plus minute game to start the second set, Gauff took the second and third sets 6-2 and 6-4 respectively to advance to the second round at Flushing Meadows.
Once Gauff took the lead in the second set, however, she had to contend with Siegemund’s stall tactics, which seemed designed to slow down play and rattle Gauff. Siegemund repeatedly took her time with her serve and leisurely went to the towel between points on Gauff’s serve, forcing the 19-year-old to wait to play the next point.
Although the chair umpire, Marijana Veljovic, warned Siegemund early in the third set, the behavior continued. Gauff finally lost her patience and called Veljovic out in a heated exchange.
“She’s never ready when I’m serving, she went over the clock like four times, you gave her a time violation once, how is this fair?…I’m going at a normal speed. Ask any ref here—I go at medium-paced speed…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.”
The encounter appeared to temporarily fluster Gauff, who was leading the set serving 3-0 but wound up dropping that game. Gauff later double-faulted three times while serving for the match at 5-2—her only double faults of the entire match. Gauff held on in the final set to take the match, beating Siegemund 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 in 2-hours and 51 minutes.
When asked during her post-match on-court interview to describe what it was like to play the match, Gauff wryly replied: “Slow.”
The No. 6 seed Gauff was scheduled to face unranked Mira Andreeva of Russia yesterday (Wednesday) if the weather permitted as rain was an impediment for matches in Queens.
In other pairings on the woman’s side, former world No. 1 and seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Venus Williams was ousted from the Open in the first round on Tuesday by qualifier Greet Minnen of Belgium, 6-1, 6-1. It was the 43-year-old Williams’s most one-sided defeat in her illustrious career of playing in Grand Slam matches.
Williams is a two-time U.S. Open singles winner (2000, 2001) and two-time doubles titlist (1999, 2009), the latter playing with her younger sister Serena, who retired from competitive professional play after last year’s Open.