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Comeback Coco: Gauff rallies to win U.S. Open debut

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NEW YORK — Comeback Coco is back. Coco Gauff, the 15-year-old who authored a magnetic run to the Wimbledon fourth round, rallied to win her first U.S. Open main draw match on Tuesday.

Gauff beat a fellow former junior No. 1, 18-year-old Russian Anastasia Potapova, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the second round of the season’s final Grand Slam. This one felt different than her Wimbledon debut win over Venus Williams, or any of the other three matches at the All England Club.

“At Wimbledon, my first match, I mean, people were still rooting for me, but obviously there was, like, a lot of people rooting for Venus, where this match it was entirely for me,” said Gauff, the youngest singles player to win a U.S. Open match since countrywoman CiCi Bellis in 2014. “This is my first match where people actually had a chant for me.”

U.S. OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

Gauff next gets Hungarian qualifier Tímea Babos on Thursday (she had to be told that she gets a day off and doesn’t have to play Wednesday).

The women’s draw has seen few major upsets — 2017 U.S. Open champion and No. 11 seed Sloane Stephens was the highest-ranked first-round loser — while four men in the top 10 were upset Tuesday.

Gauff could play No. 1 Naomi Osaka in the third round Saturday. The two practiced together about two years ago, said Osaka, who advanced in three sets Tuesday to open her title defense.

“I have actually been trying to talk to her recently, because I feel she’s a little bit like me,” said the 21-year-old Osaka, who last year became the youngest U.S. Open champion since Maria Sharapova in 2006. “This is such a good experience for her. She obviously deserves to play here.”

Gauff looked lost in the first set Tuesday evening at Louis Armstrong Stadium, the second-biggest court on the grounds with a 14,000 capacity. She had three winners to 16 unforced errors, including four double faults.

“Obviously I was nervous going out on the court,” she said. “It’s such a big court. Then my home Slam, so I wanted to do well.”

But Gauff, who threw up her hands in the direction of her player box to urge them to support her, hit reset and came back as she did in the third round of Wimbledon last month. There, Gauff became the youngest woman to make a Grand Slam fourth round since Jennifer Capriati in 1991 and became a mainstream sensation.

“It’s mostly upside,” Gauff said of the fame. “The amount of people and kids especially that come up to me saying I inspire them is honestly, I guess, better than any match I could win, just to know that I inspire another kid maybe to pick up a racket or go through something they’re facing at school.”

In other action Tuesday, the likelihood that one of the men’s Big Three wins a 12th straight Grand Slam increased significantly despite none of them playing in the day session.

That’s because next-generation stars Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas each dropped four-set matches, bowing out in the first round of a second straight Slam.

Tsitsipas’ defeat was more memorable, for he ranted against chair umpire Damien Dumusois after being called for a coaching violation and being told to speed up during a clothing change. Andrey Rublev, the 43-ranked Russian, dumped the eighth-seeded Greek 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7), 7-5.

“For some reason, you have something against me … because you’re French, probably,” Tsitsipas, who beat Roger Federer at the Australian Open en route to the semifinals, told the umpire. “And you’re all weirdos.”

Thiem went out more quietly, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to 87th-ranked Italian Thomas Fabbiano. The Austrian had downplayed his readiness before the tournament due to a virus.

“I got very, very tired and exhausted after two sets,” he said. “I’m far away from 100 percent.”

In the spring, Thiem appeared the most likely man to break up the Federer-Novak DjokovicRafael Nadal triumvirate, winning Indian Wells (considered the fifth major) and reaching a second straight French Open final. He beat Federer, Djokovic and Nadal in the clay season.

Later Tuesday night, Nadal swept Australian John Millman 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. Only one other top-12 seed is left in Nadal’s half of the draw: No. 6 Alexander Zverev, who needed five sets to advance Tuesday.

Federer, Djokovic and the Williams sisters headline Wednesday’s second-round matches.

MORE: Serena Williams gives terse response when asked about 2018 chair umpire

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Joey Mantia extends U.S. medal streak at speed skating worlds; Dutch dominance returns

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Joey Mantia ensured the host U.S. finished with a medal at the world single distances championships. Ireen WüstKjeld Nuis and Jorrit Bergsma ensured the Netherlands finished atop the medal standings.

Mantia joined Shani Davis as the only U.S. men to earn individual medals at three different editions of the championships, taking bronze in the 1500m on the last day of the speed skating meet at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Mantia won the mass start at the last two worlds in 2017 and 2019 (and finished fifth on Sunday, after the 1500m bronze).

Mantia clocked a personal best 1:42.16 in the fifth of 12 pairs of the 1500m. It held up until Nuis (1:41.66) and countryman Thomas Krol (1:41.73) in the last two pairs.

“Was starting to think that I’m so old that I can’t time trial anymore,” Mantia, a 34-year-old whose last 1500m personal best came in 2015, told media in Utah. “Maybe there’s a little bit of hope left.”

Mantia’s medal extended the U.S. streak of making the podium at every world championships this millennium — 16 straight. The single bronze is the smallest medal output since 2000.

Full results are here.

Wüst and Nuis gave the Dutch a sweep of the men’s and women’s 1500m titles, two years after they did the same at the PyeongChang Olympics. Bergsma, an Olympic and world 10,000m champion, earned his first global medal of any color — gold — in the 16-lap mass start.

The Netherlands failed to earn any golds on the first two days of the four-day competition. The dominant Dutch, who topped the medal standings at every Olympics and worlds dating to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, entered Sunday trailing Russia.

But Wüst began the day by clocking 1:50.92 to win the 1500m by .21 over Russian Yevgenia Lalenkova. American medal hope Brittany Bowe, the 2015 World champion who took bronze last year, finished 14th a day after taking eighth in her world-record 1000m distance.

Nuis and Krol went one-two in the men’s 1500m to tie Russia’s medal total. Then Irene Schouten took bronze in the women’s mass start to put the Netherlands ahead for good, followed by Bergsma’s capper.

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MORE: Shani Davis retires, takes new role in speed skating

Netherlands on the board; more world records at speed skating worlds

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It took four world records from other countries before the Netherlands won its first title in an Olympic program event at the world single distances speed skating championships.

Jutta Leerdam got the dominant skating nation on the board on the third day of the four-day competition and in the ninth Olympic program event. Leerdam scored an upset over defending champion and world-record holder Brittany Bowe, the American who ended up eighth.

Leerdam, 21, prevailed despite having zero World Cup podiums to her name. She clocked 1:11.84, just .23 slower than Bowe’s world record set on the same Utah Olympic Oval last year. Bowe, who recently had her yearlong win streak snapped in the 1000m, finished in 1:12.92.

“It’s a nightmare,” Bowe said, according to media on site.

Later, the Netherlands won the men’s team pursuit in a world record 3:34.68, the fifth world record in Olympic events the last two days on the world’s fastest ice at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Full results are here.

The world championships conclude Sunday, highlighted by American Joey Mantia defending his world title in the mass start.

In other Saturday events, both the men’s 1000m and women’s 5000m world records fell. On Friday, world records were lowered in the men’s 10,000m and women’s team pursuit.

Pavel Kulizhnikov followed his Friday world 500m title with the 1000m crown, repeating his double gold from 2016. Kulizhnikov was one of the Russians banned from the PyeongChang Olympics after he served a prior doping ban.

On Saturday, Kulizhnikov clocked 1:05.69 to take .49 off Dutchman Kjeld Nuis‘ record from last March, also set at Salt Lake City. Nuis, the Olympic 1000m and 1500m champion, took silver, 1.03 seconds behind.

Russian Natalya Voronina and Czech Martina Sablikova both went under Sablikova’s world record in the 5000m. Voronina came out on top in 6:39.02, 2.99 seconds faster than Sablikova’s record from a year ago and 2.16 seconds faster than Sablikova on Saturday.

Voronina’s time would have been the men’s world record as recently as 1993. Sablikova won the previous 10 world titles in the event dating to 2007.

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