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Coco Gauff scores US Open comeback over Linette, books Sloane Stephens second-round clash
The 17-year-old roared back from a set down on Louis Armstrong Stadium; 2017 champion Stephens awaits.
Published Aug 30, 2021
WATCH: Gauff pushed Naomi Osaka to three sets at the Western & Southern Open.
Born a good 20-plus years after Prince released his seminal classic “1999,” No. 21 seed Coco Gauff was content to party like it was 2019 on Louis Armstrong Stadium, returning to her adoring public to put down a vintage 5-7, 7-3, 6-4 performance over Magda Linette at the US Open and book an all-American clash with 2017 champion Sloane Stephens.
"The crowd, playing in front of the New York fans, definitely is an experience that I'll never forget. Every time I go out there, I'm just reminded how much I love playing in front of the crowd," Gauff said after the match.
The 17-year-old came of age at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center two years ago, when she backed up her then-shocking Wimbledon result with a dramatic run to the third round in Flushing Meadows. Her three-set thrillers both played out on Armstrong court before she made an electric Arthur Ashe Stadium debut against defending champion Naomi Osaka.
Exiting in the first round of the fanless US Open in 2020, Gauff got the boost she needed on Monday—including support from the likes of Olympian Sydney McLaughlin and former NBA star Steve Nash—shaking off the loss of six straight games to ultimately hurdle past the Pole in two hours and 33 minutes.
Gauff arrived in New York a different player than the awestruck 15-year-old making her main-draw debut. Seeded at the last two major tournaments, the world No. 23 broke new ground at the majors in 2021 when she reached her first major quarterfinal at Roland Garros and repeated her fourth-round finish at Wimbledon.
Though her summer was stunted by a COVID-19 diagnosis that kept her from making an anticipated 2020 Tokyo Olympic debut, Gauff looking solid in the early goings against Linette, who stunned Elina Svitolina en route to the third round at the All England Club.
A former No. 33, Linette was fresh off making the semifinals of the inaugural Tennis in the Land Open in Cleveland, and caught fire towards the end of the opening set, breaking Gauff at 5-3 to soon find herself ahead by a set and 2-0.
Undaunted, Gauff dug in and went on a streak of her own, securing 10 of the next 11 games to ease ahead by a double break in the ensuing decider.
Linette threatened one last momentum shift when she clawed one of the breaks back but Gauff held firm when it mattered most, outrallying the Pole on break point before converting match point with a thrilling backhand volley.
Up next will likely be another blockbuster between Gauff and Stephens, who won a rematch of the 2017 US Open final against Madison Keys in a final-set tiebreaker earlier in the day. The first on-court meeting will be a full-circle moment for Gauff.
"I've known her for a long time, so I don't even know what the first memory is. I do remember when I was 10 years old, I had a birthday party at a water park, and she came to it, which is really cool. All my friends were excited that Sloane Stephens is at your birthday, professional tennis player. It was really cool. That's probably one of the earliest memories I would say that I remember.
"I've known her for a long time. Her and I started with the same coach, Sly Black, he coached me until at least I was 13. I don't know how long he coached her for. I have a good relationship with her."