With no crowds, Coco Gough exits early at US Open

Coco Gauff did everything she could. After losing the first set and trailing Anatasija Sevastova 4–2 in the second, the 16-year-old forced a decisive match in her first-round match at the 2020 US Open. He scored three match points in the final game at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

For moments, it felt like many of Gauff’s previous major matches when he found himself down, but barely returned with points and a loud shout “Come!”

But something looked – and seemed – different Monday. Currently, Gauff, ranked 51st in the world, did not prepare thousands of fans for victory by chanting his name. Most matches were played in silence, interrupted only by the sound of overhead flying planes and the scream of a nearby 7 train. The absence of the crowd was more pronounced with each point and every lab of his hands. For Gauff, there were only a handful of spectators, all of whom wore masks, and doubts that seemed to creep into them.

And she could not remain silent on those doubts.

As he threw the ball into the net to end the match after two hours of play, he raised his hands in despair and was stunned as he walked out of the court. He grabbed his racket bag and made his way to the exit as soon as possible. Instead of staging another Cinderella run, Gough pulled out his first Grand Slam since debuting on the WTA Tour last year. She advanced to the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2019 and the Australian Open in January this year, as well as reaching 32 rounds in New York last year.

“I think Coco would have been picked up by an American crowd and helped him win that match,” said 18-time head champion and ESPN analyst Chris Evert. “If she had been playing in front of 22,000 people who were cheering for her, she would have won the match. Saying this, Anastasija played the match of her life.

“He really defined a lot of power that Coco had. The atmosphere was flat in the stands, but on the court you could still feel the power and the tension and you still knew these players were playing for the Grand Slam title Were. “

Both players knew what was at stake, even with the strange atmosphere. But Gauff feels that she often does not pay extra attention, having 13 double faults and 41 unexpected errors in the match. Sevastova, the No. 31 seed, to capitalize on Gough’s many mistakes.

During the 2019 US Open, Gough played against Luis Armstrong Stadium against Anastasia Potapova. Like Monday, she lost the first set 6-3, but came back in the second. A crowd of 14,000 fans – many of whom were enamored by the young American running to the All-England club – roared to the ovation and jumped to their feet at the most crucial moments. Gauf grew up in the environment and liked the pressure of playing on such a big stage. She won the third set 6-4.

Playing on the same court during his second round match against Timia Babos, he needed three sets to advance again. In the third set “Let’s go, Coco!” The mantra during the change, even louder when he got to face champion Naomi Osaka defending her ticket in the third round. “This is just the beginning, I promise,” she said in her postmortem interview, accompanied by the veteran and veteran.

There will be no such “Kokomonia” in Queens this year.

“I really don’t think so,” Gauff said after the match, when asked if fans could help him. “I think I just compete with the fans or not. I could have played better today.”

Gauff had some experience playing in front of vacant courts in recent weeks as the WTA Tour resumed after a six-month shutdown due to the Cortavirus epidemic, first at the Top Seed Open and then the Western and Southern Open. She made the semi-finals at Kentucky but lost in the first round last week. Still, she did not play in an Armstrong-sized stadium, and perhaps this barrier was too much to overcome.

Will other star players falter without the support of those in the stands? Will lesser-known or younger players, more familiar with playing on the outer courts with a limited and often distracted crowd, feel more comfortable? Time will tell soon

Gauff will now focus on the pairing with partner Katy McNally and will try to revive her trip to New York. The pair, who reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne in January, are collectively known as McCocco and have won two titles simultaneously. Gauff has high expectations of their partnership before turning his focus to the upcoming French Open.

“I mean, I’m still here in doubles, so I’ll hope here until the end,” she said. “That’s the goal. Then leave for Europe.”


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