Gauff Overcomes Siegemund In Testy Opener, Swiatek Rolls At US Open; Sabalenka, Venus Tues.

by Sean Randall | August 29th, 2023, 12:15 am
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Coco Gauff had to deep deep in her US Open first rounder Monday night defeating qualifier Laura Siegemund 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

“I definitely won ugly tonight,” Gauff said to the WTA. “It was a lot of weird points, with the slicing. Usually something that I usually do well against, opponents who slice. We were prepared for it. I think today was just execution.”

Siegemund, who beat Gauff in their lone previous meeting in 2020 Auckland, used some old school tactics to unnerve the teen. The 35-year-oold Siegemund mixed slices with strong net play, and she would rush the net when she hit in the corners. The strategy was effective.

In the second, the two played a marathon 25-minute, 30 point opening game which eventually Gauff would win. That gave the 19-year-old her first lead and she would never let go.

The qualifier Siegemund’s net rushes were no longer as fruitful and Gauff coach Brad Gilbert told his charge to to going to the net herself and employing the lob.

Gauff and Gilbert were both irritated by Siegemund’s slow play, often serving well after the clock had expired and slowing Gauff down on her serve. The complaining to the ump finally illicited a point penalty to give Gauff a 5-1 lead in the third. But Siegemund would win three straight games to make things intersting.

“I feel like no matter the score line in the match, I can problem solve and troubleshoot my way out,” she said. “I know I can win matches not playing my best game now. I think I wasn’t playing my best in every single match in D.C. and Cincinnati, it’s impossible. I do feel I’m much more confident in my B or C game. I think the most I’ve learned over the course of this summer is that I don’t have to play A-plus tennis to win.”

Gauff will now face fellow teen Mirra Andreeva who won in three in her US Open debut.

Next week, Gauff could face Iga Swiatek in the quarters. The world No. 1 cruised in her title defense opener over Rebecca Peterson in straight sets 6-0, 6-1. She now has 19 bagel sets on the season.

“I really wanted to play solid and start the tournament with everything I was focusing on in practice for the whole week here,” Swiatek said.

“I’m happy that I could play such a great game, and with all the pressure and expectations, that I can just have fun on court.”

Fourth-seeded Elena Rybakina enjoyed an easy win over Marta Kostyuk 6-2, 6-1. Rybakina, who lost in the first round last year, broke serve five times.

Two comeback stories enjoyed success. The United States’s Jennifer Brady bested (25y,114r) Kimberly Birrell of Australia 6-3, 7-6(7-4).

Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki made a strong return to Grand Slam play with an easy nightcap win on Armstrong over Tatiana Pozorova.

World No. 8 Maria Sakkari continued to struggle. The former US Open finalist lost her fourth straight Grand Slam match getting bundled out by Spain’s Rebecka Masarova 6-4, 6-4.

No. 11 Petra Kvitova got over on Cristina Bucsa 6-1, 7-6(7-5). No. 15 Belinda Bencic eliminated Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova 6-2, 6-4. Bernarda Pera of the United States ousted No. 16 Veronika Kudermetova 7-5, 6-4.

Three-time finalist Victoria Azarenka dusted France’s Fiona Ferro 6-1, 6-2. The 19th-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia sent out former champion Sloane Stephens 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 in one of the best matches of the day. The Brazilian is now 7-0 in three set matches.

No. 32 seed Elise Mertens got through Mirjam Bjorklund in a thriller 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(10-3). Danielle Collins hammered 18-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova 6-2, 6-0. Tenth-seeded Karolina Muchova routined Storm Hunter in straights 6-4, 6-0.

Tuesday’s schedule features first round play led by No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka tests Maryna Zanevska in a first-time tour-level contest

No. 3 Jessica Pegula will challenge Camila Giorgi. Pegula has won six of seven against the Italian including in the French Open second round.

2022 finalist Ons Jabeur and a semifinalist from last year Caroline Garcia are also in action along with Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova and 43-year-old Venus Williams returns.

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