Coco Gauff wins the first match at the US Open after complaining that her foe was too slow between points

Coco Gauff knew the perfect word to describe her win on Monday night’s Day 1 of the US Open.

“Slowly,” Gauff said during her on-field interview, then more or less suppressed a smile and paused for effect, making the crowd in the packed Arthur Ashe Stadium laugh and her opponent, Laura Siegemund, region made.

What Gauff meant was the pace of Siegemund, a 35-year-old qualifier from Germany who took her time between points and never seemed ready to play when the 19-year-old from Florida was. Sixth-seeded Gauff could also have referenced her own start to the match, a match she eventually turned around to win 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the second round at Flushing Meadows.

“I was very patient throughout the game. She went over time from the first set. I never said anything. I looked at the referee, but he did nothing,” said Gauff, who had a long conversation with official Marijana Veljovic in the third set. “Then the audience clearly started to notice that it was taking a long time, so you heard people in the audience shouting, ‘Time!’”

In the final match of the day, 23-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic made his return to the US Open swiftly, defeating Alexandre Muller 6-0, 6-2, 6-3. Djokovic was unable to travel to the United States last year because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Siegemund, whose mistakes provoked applause and whose own back-and-forth conversation with Veljovic provoked jeers, cried during her post-match press conference, saying the fans “had no respect for me.”

“I am very, very disappointed with the way people have treated me today,” said Siegemund, who has won US Open titles in women’s doubles and mixed doubles. “This is something that I must say hurts a lot. There is no doubt that I am slow. … I should be faster. But at the same time it’s how I play.”

Siegemund added: “They treated me like I was a bad person.”

With former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle in the audience, Siegemund defeated Gauff for the first set, using all kinds of slice and superb volleying.

Former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama support Coco Gauff during her US Open women’s singles match on August 28, 2023 in New York City. Corey Sipkin/AFP – Getty Images

Gauff had lost her past two Grand Slam matches — including a first-round exit at Wimbledon last month — and wasn’t looking to leave quietly or quickly this time around. As thousands of partisan fans became increasingly vocal, she converted her eighth break point into a 30-point game and over 25 minutes to begin the second set.

“It was a great mental boost,” said Gauff. “That match was a crucial momentum changer.”

That put her first for good. In the third set, Veljovic called Siegemund for a time violation. Brad Gilbert, one of two coaches to have worked with Gauff lately, shook his head at how long it took Veljovic to intervene, and his response elicited a smile from Gauff.

Gauff served while leading 3-0 in that set, but had had enough and went over to her to make her plea.

“She’s never done when I’m serving. … How is this fair?” Gauff told Veljovic. ‘I drive at a normal speed. Ask any ref here. … I’ve been quiet all game. … Now it’s ridiculous. I don’t care what she does on her serve, but (on) my serve she must be ready.

Gauff dropped that game. Later, Siegemund was awarded a point for delay, giving Gauff a 5–1 lead. That prompted Siegemund to plead her case with Veljovic: “Can’t I go to the towel anymore?” — and got some boos.

There was another problem for Gauff towards the finish: she served for the game at 5-2 in the third, but got three double faults. Those were her only double faults in the entire 2 hours and 51 minutes game.

In the end, she held on and it was Gauff’s twelfth win in thirteen games since the disappointing performance at the All England Club. This recent run includes the two biggest titles of the American’s career and a victory over No. 1 Iga Swiatek.

Gauff and Swiatek could meet in the quarterfinals next week.

Swiatek was ready for a serious defense of her US Open title, winning the first match in Ashe on Monday – taking all 58 minutes to thrash out Rebecca Peterson 6-0, 6-1 – but otherwise it was difficult for some of the top players. seeded players.

The no. 4th man Holger Rune was sent back 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 by Roberto Carballes Baena in 63rd; the no. With 8 women, Maria Sakkari lost 6-4, 6-4 to the 71st Rebekah Masarova.

Sakkari said afterwards that she was bothered by the smell of marijuana in the air.

“The smell. Oh my god,” Sakkari told the chair umpire in the first set. “It was weed.”

Rune had his own complaint – before the game.

The two-time major quarter-finalist, a 20-year-old who is regarded as part of the next generation of stars in men’s tennis, was not happy to be sent off to compete on Court 5, where he posted a map of the tournament grounds to help his supporters in finding the place.

“I just didn’t expect to play on that field,” said Rune afterwards. “That’s disappointing, of course, but I’m not going to blame the court for the loss.”

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