August 29, 2023
Coco Gauff and Novak Djokovic are already lighting up the stage at the US Open.
But they had very different experiences in their opening matches at Flushing Meadows.
Gauff had to handle the extra weight of expectation after she won Washington and Cincinnati recently.
And the teenager did seem to be struggling with the pressure as she lost the first set to little-known Laura Siegemund.
The aggressive German was rushing the net at will – and at first Wimbledon favourite Coco had no answer.
She even complained to the umpire about how much time her opponent was taking to receive serve.
But eventually Gauff settled down and showed her usual fighting spirit to take the match 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were waiting in the wings to greet Coco after her win.
Coco explained: ‘I’ve met Mrs Obama before and they told me it was just her initially. Then Mr Obama was there in the room too. I haven’t soaked it in yet. I think I’m going to remember that moment for the rest of my life.’
Coco Gauff has the kind of star quality that will also make her a big attraction at Wimbledon 2024!
Meanwhile Maria Sakkari showed there is no automatic right to progression in a Grand Slam after she was knocked out in the first round by Rebeka Masarova.
Superstar Sakkari broke down in tears after her latest disappointment and admitted: ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do.’
There was a more pleasant shock for little-known British qualifier Lily Miyazaki, who notched her first main-draw singles victory at a Grand Slam by beating Margarita Betova.
Her reward was £98,000, which might help her to travel with a coach in future.
Meanwhile Novak Djokovic reminded us how he does so well at majors by breezing through his first challenge against Alexandre Muller 6-0, 6-3, 6-3.
Although the underdog conjured a ‘tweener then chased down a drop shot to win an extraordinary point, he was rarely in it – and Novak just smiled at those token heroics.
As usual, the Serb world-beater will have plenty left in the tank when it comes to the business end of the tournament.
‘I’m happy with my level,’ said Djokovic ominously. ‘I’ll hope to bring the same to the next round.’
Coco Gauff and Novak Djokovic will also bring their unique brand of magic to Wimbledon 2024!
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