“I Had A Feeling It Was Going To Happen This Tournament” | Coco Gauff Manages Long Protest Delay To Advance To Her First U.S. Open Final

Cori “Coco” Gauff advanced to her second major final on Thursday, Sept. 7, and her first U.S. Open Final with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Karolína Muchová. Gauff withstood tough weather conditions with the heat and humidity, a top-10 player and a 49-minute delay in the match due to a climate change protest. But nothing was going to stop the 19-year-old, who has been the best women’s player during the summer hardcourt season, from getting to the final.

Civil Disobedience Is A Part Of Life

Gauff was leading at 6-4, 1-0 when a loud series of choreographed chants rang out in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Both players backed off their lines and looked to the chair umpire. As the chants continued, stadium personnel arrived to the section where the fans were protesting.

Unable to remove the protesters, at least a half dozen NYPD officers arrived on the scene and escorted three of the four protesters out of the stadium. They were wearing shirts that read “End Fossil Fuels.”

The fourth protester glued his feet to the floor of the seating bowl; removing this protester required extra time and medical personnel to ensure that it was done safely.

One protestor said the group wanted the U.S. Open to be held accountable because it has sponsors who are large corporations whose policies are contributing to global warming.

All four were taken into police custody.

Global warming is real and our dependence on fossil fuels is destroying the planet. There should be no debate there. Whether the U.S. Open was the right place for the protest is likely what angers many. But where is the right place to protest grave injustices? The point of protest is to disrupt and make people uncomfortable — a fact that Gauff understands better than most.

Gauff Practices What She Preaches

“I definitely, I believe, you know, in climate change. I don’t really know exactly what, you know, what they were protesting. I know it was about the environment,” Gauff said after the match. “I think there are things we can do better. I know the tournaments are doing things to do better for the environment. Would I prefer it not happening in my match? 100%, yeah. I’m not gonna sit here and lie (smiling). But it is what it is. I had a feeling it was going to happen this tournament. It happened in the French Open, it happened in Wimbledon. So, you know, following the trend, it was definitely going to happen here. I just was hoping it wasn’t in my match, and honestly I thought we made it through…I always speak about preaching, you know, preaching about what you feel and what you believe in. It was done in a peaceful way, so I can’t get too mad at it.”

On the court, Gauff raced out to a 5-1 lead in the first set before Muchová found her footing and won three straight games. Gauff broke Muchová again to take the first set.

The second was a bit more back and forth with Gauff having the chance to close it out on her own serve; she was broken, but ultimately prevailed.

One Win Away

Gauff made the French Open final in 2022, where she lost in straight sets to Iga Swiatek, but much has changed for the 19-year-old phenom. She has a new coaching team led by Pere Riba and Brad Gilbert, and her mentality and approach to Grand Slams are also different. She is channeling the late, great NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and his famous “mamba mentality.”

“He’s, like, has an incredible mentality. One of the things is when he’s up and, you know, the finals, NBA Finals when they’re up in the count or 3-1, whatever lead they have, he doesn’t celebrate,” said Gauff. “He’d satisfy, give himself a pat on the back but time to move on. So that’s the mentality that I have. I’m trying to enjoy the moment but also knowing I still have more work to do. Yes, the final is an incredible achievement but it’s something that I’m not satisfied with yet.”

Gauff will take on new world no. 1 Aryna Sabalenka on Saturday, Sept. 9. One more win and the job will be done. She will be able to call herself U.S. Open champion.

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