Coco Gauff demonstrated poise and experience as she moved into the second round of the US Open by recovering from a set down to defeat Laura Siegemund 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 in a tension-filled encounter on Arthur Ashe Stadium that lasted nearly three hours.
Gauff, the sixth seed, became increasingly frustrated with the significant amount of time Siegemund took between points, with the German’s stalling tactics initially going unpunished. On Siegemund’s serve, the shot clock ticked down to zero numerous times while she continually made Gauff wait on her own serve.
As Gauff led 3-0 in the third set, Siegemund put up her hand, forcing the American to serve again and prompting Gauff to firmly explain her frustrations to the umpire, Marijana Veljović. Her arguments appeared to be convincing as, later in the third set, Siegemund received a second time violation and a point penalty. As she left the court, Siegemund refused to shake Veljović’s hand.
“I don’t know exactly what I said. I said, ‘it doesn’t matter if it’s a long game’,” said Gauff afterwards. “Endurance is part of tennis. If I’m going in the gym four hours and I’m running tracks and doing cardio, that’s to prepare me for these long moments so she should be as prepared.
“I think that was the situation [at which] I was getting frustrated. I felt like the rules were being bent. That’s why a lot of players get mad when these time violations are called because one ref is letting them go over, the other is more strict on the time. I think tennis needs to be more strict on the rules for everybody regardless of every situation.”
Afterwards, the US Open held a presentation featuring Michelle Obama to celebrate Billie Jean King and 50 years of equal prize money at the US Open, which became the first grand slam tournament to offer equal prize money after coming under significant pressure from King ahead of the 1973 edition. Barack and Michelle Obama also visited Gauff after her match.
“They told me it was just her [Michelle] initially,” she said. “Then Mr. Obama was there in the room, too. I was like, ‘Oh, my God’. I haven’t soaked it in because I literally just walked in here. I think I’m going to never forget that moment for the rest of my life. Yeah, I went from being really upset after a win to, like, being really happy. So I’m glad I got to meet them. They gave me some good advice, too.”
Meanwhile, Caroline Wozniacki marked her return to grand slam tennis with a satisfying victory as she eased past Tatiana Prozorova 6-3, 6-2 in her first round match to set up a marquee second round with her old rival Petra Kvitová.
“It feels amazing to be back,” Wozniacki said. “Obviously, I was very nervous coming out here. I haven’t been out here since 2019 and a lot has happened since then. It feels amazing to come out here, playing the night session and get a match under my belt.”
Since coming out of retirement earlier this month, Wozniacki has enjoyed mixed results in her two tournaments back, losing in the second round of the Canadian Open in Montreal to Markéta Vondroušová, the Wimbledon champion, before suffering a disappointing loss to Varvara Gracheva in Cincinnati.
Against Prozorova, a 19-year-old qualifier ranked No 227, Wozniacki took advantage of a good first round draw, smothering the teenager with her consistency and solidity as she advanced.
Wozniacki will next rekindle her rivalry with Kvitová, who she has battled 14 times over the past 14 years. Both born in 1990, Wozniacki and Kvitová are currently the youngest players with more than 30 WTA titles.
“I actually didn’t know that I had the potential of playing her in the second round. I don’t think she knew it either. We were talking yesterday in the locker room. She was like, ‘When are you playing?’ ‘Tomorrow night.’ She goes, ‘Yeah, me too. I play tomorrow night.’
“We talked about each other’s opponents. She was like, ‘It’s so cool to see you back.’ Just kind of talking about family. I think she didn’t have any idea that she was potentially playing against me either.”
Late on Tuesday night, Novak Djokovic ensured that he will reclaim the No 1 ranking from Carlos Alcaraz after the US Open by reaching the second round with a composed 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 win over Alexandre Muller of France.
Despite starting his opening round match around 11pm, Djokovic was sharp from the beginning and wasted minimal energy in an extremely efficient performance. After winning the first eight games of the match, the Serb cruised to victory in 95 minutes. He will face Bernabe Zapata Miralles on Wednesday.
“I’ve probably had the answer for every shot he had in his book,” he said. “Overall I’m very, very pleased with the way I feel, with the way I’m playing. Hopefully I can maintain that level. It’s just the beginning of the tournament, but I already like the level of tennis.”