Coco Gauff Defeated by Anastasija Sevastova in 1st Round of 2020 U.S. Open

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2020

Anastasija Sevastova, of Latvia, returns to Kristina Mladenovic, of France, at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Coco Gauff fell to No. 31 seed Anastasija Sevastova in three sets, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, in the first round of the 2020 U.S. Open on Monday at Louis Armstrong Stadium. 

While the empty venue wasn't the cause of Gauff's defeat, having what almost certainly would've been a partisan New York City crowd certainly wouldn't have hurt her upset bid.

D'Arcy Maine @darcymaine_espn

And out goes Coco Gauff. Loses in the first round in three sets. Would the crowd have made the difference today? (I think so)

The first set was a back-and-forth affair until Sevastova earned a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. That was the moment she needed to climb into the driver's seat, and she closed out the set by reeling off four straight points for a break in the ninth game.

Two more service breaks helped Sevastova build a 4-2 advantage, and a straight-set victory felt inevitable.

Instead, Gauff immediately broke back, showing a level of resolve belying her age (16). As she started building momentum, Sevastova began to fade and look tense. They completely reversed the roles they had assumed for the bulk of the match.

Jon Wertheim @jon_wertheim

Re: Gauff/Sevastova...for the first hour, it looked like a poised veteran against a tight teenager. For last 15 minutes: a poised teen against a tight veteran....

From down 2-4, Gauff took five of the next six games to claim the set.

US Open Tennis @usopen

Don't count out Coco. @CocoGauff rallies to force a 3rd set on Armstrong! #USOpen https://t.co/vv4dLQoQaq

Neither player budged in the third set. Somewhat surprisingly since they had combined for 11 breaks in the first two sets, Gauff and Sevastova were nearly untouchable on serve.

Gauff had a pair of break-point opportunities in the first game, only for Sevastova to hold.

The 30-year-old Latvian finally got the breakthrough in the 10th game. She had two match points after Gauff fell behind 15-40 but couldn't capitalize. A third match point fell by the wayside, too, before Gauff dumped a forehand into the net to hand the match to Sevastova.

It was a fitting end to the match for the American, who was her own worst enemy. Gauff committed 13 double faults and 40 unforced errors, per the U.S. Open's official site.

Gauff clearly has a bright future ahead, and her fight back in the second set demonstrated her impressive composure. Conversely, her high tally of unforced errors underscores how hard it could be to put together another deep singles run at a Grand Slam event.


What's Next?

Sevastova will play Marta Kostyuk in the second round. This is the first time they have met in a WTA event.