(September 1, 2021) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NEW YORK – When is an upset not an upset? When a former champion beats you. That’s what happened on a rainy Wednesday night on Day 3 of the US Open in side or Arthur Ashe stadium. No. 21 seed, the 17-year-old Coco Gauff lost to unseeded 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-2.
Both women from Florida have known each other for a long time. They first hit with each other when Gauff was just 12-year-old. Stephens at 28, is currently ranked 66th in the world said that her forehand was the key to the match win.
“I will say she probably hit her forehand the best that I’ve seen in a long time,” said Gauff. “Also that could be just different because this is my first time facing her. I never practiced with her, so… That could just be my own thing because this is my first time feeling her ball.
“But she definitely played well tonight. She definitely was the better player tonight.”
“I thought today obviously was a good opportunity to go out and play some good tennis,” Stephens told media. “We know that Coco is a great player. I was looking forward to a good match.
“I thought that we both played well. There was times that I took my chances. I think they paid off well. I just really executed well tonight my game plan and was happy to get the win.”
“I’ve been playing a lot better, going in the right direction.
“Obviously it’s tough when you’re unseeded. You have tough first rounds. It’s harder to work your way into a tournament. So I think now I’m at the point where I’m able to be really competitive at the beginning of the tournaments, playing against top players.
“Yeah, obviously coming out of the pandemic, it was rocky road. I think for everyone it hasn’t been too consistent for anyone. I think you’ve just got to ride the wave. Yeah, it’s kind of coming together, which is nice.”
“I knew I wanted to place a lot of first serves and get myself started early in the points,” she said.
“Serving that high percentage for me is always really key just because I can get into the points and I can start off aggressive with me dictating play, which is what I want to do.
“Yeah, that was just part of it. But happy and very pleased with that stat.”
“Sloane played really well,” Gauff said. “I think tonight I just didn’t play my best tennis that I could have. All the games were close. I just feel like I could have done a lot better returning and also on, like, pressure points, putting the ball in the court.”
“I knew these last couple tournaments she’s been playing better and better,” the teenager added. “I hope that she can make it all the way to the end.
“I mean, obviously if you are going to lose, you want to lose to the champion.”
“Obviously, I have a lot of respect for Sloane,” Gauff said. “Looked up to her for a while. Known her since I was little.” “But I don’t think our relationship affected the match.”
Stephens comes off this win over Gauff, after beating another close friend in Madison Keys, her opponent in the 2017 finals in the first round. she’ll face the winner of the match between 16th seed and former champion Angelique Kerber and Anhelina Kalinina . Their match was supposed to have been played Wednesday night but was postponed until Thursday due to the extremely rainy weather, the remnants of hurricane Ida, which caused rain to get into Louis Armstrong Stadium during the Kevin Anderson- Diego Schwartzman match, which will be completed after the men’s match in Ashe Stadium.
former major winners – Simona Halep, Garbiñe Muguruza and Victoria Azarenka all advanced along with Naomi Osaka who benefited from a walkover, to set up some must-see third round match-ups on the women’s side: