In the opening set of her third round match against Elise Mertens on Friday, Coco Gauff looked flawless and frustrated as if she was going to finish the tournament early, which was not the case earlier this week at the US Open.
Mertens, the 27-year-old Belgian, was playing loose and aggressive, while Gough, the 19-year-old American star, made error after error on almost every stroke. Gauff, who usually has extraordinary emotional maturity and composure, showed frustration throughout the early part of the match, screaming uncharacteristically after a double fault in the first set, which Mertens won 6-3.
It was suddenly easy to imagine Gauff’s US Open career coming to an end on this chilly New York evening.
Instead, Gove turned the ball around and turned the emotional tables on Mertens. She won the second set less shaky 6-3, and by the third set it was clear just how desperate Gauff was to win, as she used her phenomenal foot speed to track down every ball, forcing Mertens to make mistakes. Gauff won the third set cleanly, 6-0.
“The energy I have today definitely helped me,” Gauff said in her on-court interview. “I felt like you were playing every point to the best of me.” “When you lose the first set, you know you have to show that you put all that energy into the first set and that you’re ready to play.”
Goff said that “the three guys are showing everybody that I’m not going to lose without a fight”.
The early night match at Arthur Ashe Stadium drew a packed crowd that included pop star Justin Bieber and his wife, model and influencer Hailey Bieber, along with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and actress Katie Holmes.
The audience has been unbalanced for Goff since tonight’s opening transmission. Chants of “Let’s go Coco” and “Finish it Coco” resounded throughout the stadium. The crowd jumped to their feet and fans cheered each other on every positive turn for Gauff, although progress was slow until the second set.
Friday Marked for the third time The two faced each other, with Gauff winning their most recent meeting in straight sets at the 2022 French Open. Gauff admitted in a pre-match interview that she won their last encounter with ease, and she wasn’t expecting to win so easily this time.
Shortly into the first set, it looked almost certain that Mertens would progress to the last 16. Then things turned.
Gauff lost the first game of the second set, then fought hard to hold serve after six tie points. And on the sixth day, I hit a crushing blow in the middle and shouted “Come on!” It was her fourth ace of the match at that point. As the game wore on, she fired a precarious backhand and when Mertens zigzaked a backhand across the field, Gauff swooped in, ran towards the ball and then leaped into the air to smash it on the line with her forehand.
When she grabbed the second set with a backhand on the goal line, she pumped her fist and extended her arms, inviting the crowd to cheer for her. Mertens looked hopeless.
Gauff started the third set strongly as Mertens’ match fell apart completely. She scored forehands and hit long backhands and double-faulted.
Gauff will next play Caroline Wozniacki, who recently returned to tennis after retiring three years ago to focus on building a family. Wozniacki made an impressive start to the tournament, defeating Petra Kvitova in straight sets in her first-round match and Jennifer Brady in three sets, after trailing by one set, in her second-round match.
Gauff said she told Wozniacki when she retired that she wished she had the chance to play with her. “This wish has come true,” she said. “Playing a legend like her is really exciting and I wouldn’t take this moment for granted.”
Gauff, who looked like a veteran when she beat Mertens in the third set, was quick to remind us that she was still a teenager.
In an interview on ESPN’s desk inside Ashe after the match, Gauff said she noticed Bieber in the crowd during the second set.
“Oh yeah, I definitely saw who was there,” she said, laughing. “I thought I couldn’t lose to Justin Bieber. I haven’t lost a match after I saw that. I got a little nervous when I first saw him, and then I remembered that President Obama and Michelle Obama were in my match in the first round.
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