After the play was stopped for over an hour by an environmental activist who had his feet attached to the Arthur Ashe Stadium floor, American Coco Gauff defeated Karolina Muchova 6-4, 7-5, and advanced to her first U.S. Open final on Thursday.
Gauff, who had previously defeated Muchova in the Cincinnati final to win the biggest championship of her career, benefited from the enthusiasm of the home audience to defeat the Czech once more.
The winner of the other semifinal between Madison Keys of the United States, the sixth seed, and Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, the second seed, will advance to face Gauff. Early in the second set, four fans raised their objections, which caused the action to be postponed for around 50 minutes.
Three of the four, according to the USTA, were safely removed out of the stadium, but the fourth “affixed their bare feet to the floor of the seating bowl.”
Gauff won the first three games of the opening set, and in the sixth game, she broke her opponent again. The runner-up at Roland Garros this year, Muchova, took advantage of several errors made by the 19-year-old and broke back right away in the seventh game.
She then raised her game to break Gauff once again in the ninth game.
The Czech’s efforts were in vain, however, as she made three unforced errors in the tenth game, which gave Gauff the opportunity to break to love and win the set.
Both players sat on their benches as security personnel soon proceeded to put an end to the disturbance after a routine hold by Gauff to start the second set. Shouts were heard from high up in the seats.
Both athletes fled the court as the holding period dragged on, and police officers surrounded the final protester before dragging him out of the area while holding his hands behind his back. The players re-warmed up on the court after their return, then they resumed play without seeming shaken by the ordeal.
In the eighth set, Muchova double-faulted to assist Gauff in breaking, but she saved match point the following game before breaking the American’s serve to extend the match.
In the 12th game, Muchova saved four more match points, but Gauff would not be stopped. On the penultimate point, she survived a 40-shot rally with a forehand winner, and on the sixth match point, she delightedly blasted a backhand past the baseline.
While giving her opponent credit, Muchova admitted to reporters that she was unhappy with the caliber of her own performance on Thursday.