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Sunday, January 29, 2023

US Open: Gauff sizzles in opener, Halep out

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America’s teen sensation Coco Gauff opened her US Open campaign in style with a 6-2, 6-3 win against France’s Leolia Jeanjean in the first round.

Gauff will face either Granby finalist Australia’s Daria Saville or Romania’s Elena Gabriela Ruse next.

Gauff’s athleticism and defensive skills were on full display during her first-round victory on Monday.

She fired 8 aces, won 91% of her first-serve points and did not face a single break point in the match.

“I was really nervous, I was feeling the pressure,” Gauff said. “It’s my first back in the home slam after a final. To be frank, I didn’t think I was going to be on Ashe today. Opening the women’s draw on Ashe, too, at that.

“But it is nice to break the barrier. I really didn’t think about it until after the match was over and then I walked out [to salute] the crowd and said, Wait, I haven’t done this before. That’s why I told them it was my first win on Ashe.”

As Gauff was put through her paces on Ashe Stadium, Romanian World no, 1 Simona Halep, a 2015 US Open semifinalist, was shocked by the 20-year-old Ukrainian qualifier in three sets, 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 at Louis Armstrong Stadium on Monday.

With Halep’s loss, Gauff is now the highest-ranked player in her section of the draw, which includes No.20 seed Madison Keys.

Snigur will face RebeccaMarino of Canada in Round 2 on Wednesday. Her victory over Halep was her first WTA win. The Ukranian played in last week’s Ukraine fundraiser in Louis Armstrong Stadium in between qualifying matches.

Halep, the former world No. 1, had won 20 of her previous 23 matches before Monday. The US Open is the only Grand Slam where Halep hasn’t reached a final.

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