August 31, 2020,

Talk about having the place all to yourself.

If you don’t want to be around a lot of people, the 2020 US Tennis Open is the place to be. Only as a fan, you can’t get in.

For those of us who have watched the US Open over the years, the energy of the crowd is at least 50 percent of the fun and excitement. Maybe more.

Eerie is an apt description of watching top female tennis stars compete and ironically there is virtually no one there to watch them. Cheer for them. Scream for them. Cry for them.

Especially if you are an American. Talk about a previous massive home court advantage.,,, articles, photo-via-New-York-Times

Coco Gauff sure could have used the crowd support today. She has been struggling of late and the raucous New York fans in her corner would have been a gigantic plus. At least last year they helped propel her to victory.

If you are a top player, and Coco is, this year you need to do your best work when things are quiet.

Real quiet.

CoriCocoGauff is an American Phenom tennis player.

She is the youngest player ranked in the top 100 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and has a career-high ranking of No. 49 in the world in singles, and No. 42 in doubles.

Coco won her first WTA singles title at the 2019 Linz Open at the age of 15, making her the youngest singles title-holder on the WTA Tour since 2004.

She also has won two WTA doubles titles with compatriot and fellow teenager Caty McNally. Coco rose to prominence with an upset win over Venus Williams in the opening round at Wimbledon in 2019.

Born to athletic parents with NCAA Division I collegiate backgrounds in basketball and track and field, Ms. Gauff experimented with a variety of sports as a child.

Our American star chose to focus on tennis, having been inspired to play by the Williams sisters and because of her preference to compete in an individual sport. Coco had quick success as a junior, earning a sponsorship to train at Patrick Mouratoglou‘s academy in France.

Her life is in sharp contrast to her first round opponent in Anastasija Sevastova.

The first question that many will have is, who is she?,,, articles, photo-via Bleacher Report

Good question. Fair question. Only if you are not a real tennis fan.

Anastasija is a big time player.

Anastasija Sevastova is a professional tennis player from Latvia.

Latvia, officially known as the Republic of Latvia, is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe.

Since Latvia’s independence in 1918, it has been referred to as one of the Baltic States.

It is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, Belarus to the southeast, and shares a maritime border with Sweden to the west.

Latvia has a population of 1,957,200.

For perspective, after centuries of Swedish, Polish and Russian rule, a rule mainly executed by the Baltic German aristocracy, the Republic of Latvia was established on November 8, 1918 when it broke away from the Russian Empire and declared independence in the aftermath of World War I.

That is Latvia’s history and now Anastasija is making history.

She reached her career-high singles ranking of world No. 11 in October 2018, after reaching her first Premier Mandatory final at the China Open. She has won four singles titles on the WTA Tour, as well as 13 singles and four doubles titles on the ITF Circuit.

Somewhat like Kim Clijsters, Ms. Sevastova is best-known for her success at the US Open, particularly in recent years. In 2016, she defeated the reigning French Open champion and world No. 3, Garbiñe Muguruza, as well as Australian Open semifinalist Johanna Konta, en route to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

In 2018, she reached her first Grand Slam semifinal, defeating defending champion and world No. 3, Sloane Stephens, in the quarterfinals, whom she had lost to at that same stage in 2017, before losing to Serena Williams.

Yes she can be a giant killer.

No doubt that was on Coco’s mind today. The Latvian was ranked higher but the American was considered the favorite. Especially in front of an American crowd, which unfortunately for Coco was not there due to the pandemic.

The first set saw Coco showing her nerves.

Coco, who recently turned 16 in March of 2020, dropped the first set, 6-3.

Hopefully she dropped those teenage nerves too.

After winning the first two games of the second set, she struggled with her serve and fell behind once again. She also piled up unforced errors and orbited 11 double faults, just a few games into the second set.

Then she seemed to find herself.

The second set was tight and neither super star could seem to get a strong footing, yet Coco continued to stay one step ahead of Anastasija and every time that Coco seemed to falter and look like, well a teenager, she would call upon her reserves and fight through her mistakes.

The second set goes to Coco in a very close one, 7-5.

Make no doubt about it. Coco is for real and not just a one year wonder.

Have to admit, at this point, we thought Coco got all of the nerves out and was ready to begin to pound Anastasija. It took nerves of steel to secure that set away from an experienced pro like the Latvian.

If only the boisterous US Open crowd of New York’s summer past was there.

Oh well. Have to stay in the present.

Anastasija was very much in the present.

Although tight at times herself, she kept hanging around and staying one game ahead of Coco placing severe pressure on the young teenager’s ability to hold serve. She had many chances to break and inexplicably tightened up herself.

Finally Coco made one errant serve too many and Anastasija took advantage and Coco succumbed.

It was odd watching the talented teenager walk of the court with no crowd to wave at or say thank you to.

This is not your typical US Open to be sure.

But at least the organizers have the guts and creativity to play on anyway.

Crowd or not, we’re extremely glad of that.

Five aces and 27 winners later, so is Anastasija.,,, articles, ESPN photo credit

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OPENING PHOTO,,, articles, NBC photo credit