Coco Gauff survived a scare before going past Magda Linette with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 victory at the US Open on Monday. The World No. 21 seed will next face fellow American Sloane Stephens in the second round encounter on Wednesday. In the first meeting between the two, Gauff needed two hours and 34 minutes to fend off the challenge from the 48th- ranked Linette. Although the 17-year-old Gauff lost the first set she came back strong to win the remaining two sets and prevail over the Polish player.
“The crowd, playing in front of the New York fans, definitely is an experience that I’ll never forget. Every time I go out there, I’m just reminded how much I love playing in front of the crowd,” Gauff said after the match.
Gauff had to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics due to COVID-19, is looking for her first Grand Slam semi-final berth. She advanced to the French Open quarterfinals in June. However, she lost in the fourth round at Wimbledon to a tough opponent in Angelique Kerber.
Linette, who was coming on the back of a semifinal appearance at the Land Open in Cleveland, caught fire towards the end of the opening set, breaking Gauff at 5-3 to soon find herself ahead by a set and 2-0.
But the teenager maintained her composure and didn’t let the pressure get the better of her as she secured 10 of the 11 remaining games to ease ahead by a double break in the ensuing decider.
Even late in the third set, things weren’t sewn up. Gauff led 5-3, Linette closed to 5-4 and held a break point at 30-40 to tie it. She recovered, hit a forehand winner on the run. Gauff ended it on match point with a backhand volley winner to book a meeting with the fellow American Stephens
“I’ve known her for a long time, so I don’t even know what the first memory is. I do remember when I was 10 years old, I had a birthday party at a water park, and she came to it, which is really cool. All my friends were excited that Sloane Stephens is at your birthday, professional tennis player. It was really cool. That’s probably one of the earliest memories I would say that I remember.
“I’ve known her for a long time. Her and I started with the same coach, Sly Black, he coached me until at least I was 13. I don’t know how long he coached her for. I have a good relationship with her.”
Meanwhile, in the other match of the day, 2016 US Open champion Angelique Kerber also pulled off a stunning comeback. She won the first-round match against Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine with a scoreline of 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(3).
The no.16 seed German had to dig deep to get the better of the Ukrainian who was playing her first Grand Slam since the 2020 French Open. Kerber will next face another Ukrainian, Anhelina Kalinina in the second round.
Last year’s runner-up Victoria Azarenka powered her way past Tereza Martincova in straight sets, 6-4, 6-0. The Former World No.1 needed just 1 hour and 10 minutes to get the better of World No. 60 Martincova.