The 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens suffered a massive upset in the first round of the tournament’s 2019 edition, while fellow American Coco Gauff, a 15-year-old often considered overhyped, victoriously opened her Flushing Meadows debut, following a sensational run to the fourth round of Wimbledon.
The 11th-seeded Stephens was stunned by world No.127 Anna Kalinskaya, 6-3 6-4, 20-year-old Russian who had never won a main-draw match at a Grand Slam tournament and never defeated a Top 20 opponent in four tries. Playing a night match at a major for the first time, Kalinskaya capitalized on Stephens’ inconsistency and 33 unforced errors, more than twice as many as her 15.
The 26-year-old Stephens made three unforced errors in a row to help Kalinskaya get in the position to serve for the match at 5-4 in the second set and even though the American saved a couple of match points, the underdog advanced to the second round with a backhand winner down the line. Kalinskaya is the lowest-ranked player Stephens has lost to in her major career!
In the hardcourt tournaments leading up to the season’s final Grand Slam, Stephens had three early exits. She ended her partnership with coach Sven Groeneveld just a week before the US Open and reunited with Kamau Murray, who worked with her from 2015 through 2018.
Kalinskaya will next face New York native Kristie Ahn, the 27-year-old playing her first US Open main draw since 2008. Ahn defeated Cincinnati finalist and 2004 US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round.
New American sensation Coco Gauff cleared her first hurdle, coming back from a set and a break down, then again from a break down in the third set before overcoming fellow teenager Anastasia Potapova of Russia 3-6 6-2 6-4. In the second round, Gauff’s opponent will be Timea Babos, third-ranked doubles player.
The 140th-ranked Gauff’ batteries were charged by the supporting home crowd as she edged the world No.72 Potapova who converted all five of her break points and saved 12 break points against her.
During her second main-draw appearance at a Grand Slam, Gauff is sporting a New Balance x Gitman Vintage dress that shows an aerial view of NY tennis courts and personalized “Call me Coco” tennis shoes. For all of us debating whether to call her by her real name “Cori” or her nickname “Coco”, we’re now convinced that we should stick with “Coco”.
I love watching Coco Gauff. I hope she breaks every record that Serena and Steph have. However, I just wondered about her behavior at the net today, when she looked at her opponent directly in the face and screamed. I think as she gets older she should quit doing that. It’s not becoming nor is it very goodsportsmanlike.