Coco Gauff advances to US Open final! American tennis star defeats No. 10 Karolina Muchova 6-4 7-5 after 45-minute delay over fossil fuels protests

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Coco Gauff demonstrated her remarkable maturity once again by surviving a 45-minute disruption at Flushing Meadows to make her first US Open final.

A protester glued his feet to the floor in the stands of the Arthur Ashe Stadium, but while his removal took place she maintained her concentration to eventually score a 6-4 7-5 victory which spanned more than three hours over number ten seed Karolina Muchova.

‘I just treated it like a rain delay,’ said Gauff, who is coming off tournament wins in Cincinnati and Washington. 

‘So many times in tennis we stop. In Washington DC people were passing out, even in Cincinnati so I just treated it like that. The only thing that was harder was that we had to leave the court. We didn’t know. The security guard said it could be five minutes or it could be an hour so we didn’t know how to warm up and prepare. I didn’t know whether to eat or not. I just treated it like a rain delay to be honest.’ 

The 19 year-old American, who needed five match points to clinch the win before an ecstatic crowd, was left awaiting the winner of the second match between compatriot Madison Keys and world number two Aryna Sabalenka.

Coco Gauff reacts as protestors interrupt her match with Karolina Muchova on Thursday

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Coco Gauff reacts as protestors interrupt her match with Karolina Muchova on Thursday

Karolina Muchova, of the Czech Republic, reacts during a match against Coco Gauff

Karolina Muchova, of the Czech Republic, reacts during a match against Coco Gauff

Protestors from a group called Extinction Rebellion are seen interrupting Thursday's semifinal

Protestors from a group called Extinction Rebellion are seen interrupting Thursday’s semifinal

Speaking to ESPN, Gauff added that she had earlier had a premonition that something might happen in one of her remaining matches: ‘The crazy thing is I told myself this morning there would be a climate change protest in the final. 

‘I told the umpire it was a protest. I told Karolina and she said ‘how did you recognize it was a protest?’ 

‘I just had weird feelings that something was going to happen, it happened at Wimbledon and it happened at the French Open.’ 

Gauff was initially frustrated by the hiatus which came at 6-4 1-0 in the second set. Tournament Director Stacey Allaster later confirmed: ‘As we witnessed, we had environment protesters up in the loge area. There were three. Three were removed. They quietly left. When security got there they found one of the protesters had physically glued himself, his bare feet, to the cement floor.’

Before that had become clear Gauff’s coach Brad Gilbert had shouted at Referee Jake Garner ‘This is a joke!’.

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Both players were sent back to the locker room as police eventually unglued the fossil fuel activist, who had two accomplices.

One man from the British group actually glued his feet to the floor at Arthur Ashe Stadium

One man from the British group actually glued his feet to the floor at Arthur Ashe Stadium 

Ultimately the match was decided by the more mundane statistic of Muchova hitting 36 unforced errors to her opponent’s 25 in what was always a tense encounter before a packed assembly of more than 22,000.

‘Some of those points were so loud, I hope my ears will be ok. I grew up watching this tournament so it means a lot but the job is not done,’ said Gauff.

She had walked on court to a warm reception, armed with the knowledge that last month she had beaten the same opponent in the final at Cincinnati.

She was far the more assured for the first six games, racing away to a 5-1 lead by playing a measured and consistent game. Giving the ball plenty of air she drew mistake after mistake from the clearly nervous Czech.

A match official speaks with Coco Gauff during the 45-minute protest delay on Thursday

A match official speaks with Coco Gauff during the 45-minute protest delay on Thursday 

New York City Police officers escort away a protesters after they interrupted the semifinal

New York City Police officers escort away a protesters after they interrupted the semifinal

The hitch came when she tried to serve it out, and suddenly the American was broken twice in succession with her forehand – often the bellwether of she is feeling – completely misfiring. Fortunately for Gauff, Muchova then reverted to her errant ways to virtually gift her the tenth game.

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Gauff had held her serve in the first game of the second set when the hiatus occurred, and would have to rediscover her momentum. It was important for her to hold serve in her first game back, which she did, but was then lobbed on break point in the next game when there was the opportunity to break for 3-1.

She then broke for 5-3 when Muchova double faulted and missed a simple overhead. The American then became edgy and failed to serve the match out at the first time of asking. At 6-5 against serve she forced two match points, one saved by a blinding Muchova and the next through a forehand error from the American. A third went begging through another forehand that went wide.

A fourth was saved through a serve and volley maneuver before the fifth was clinched when the Czech sent a backhand long, giving Gauff her second Grand Slam final following last year’s French Open.

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