At the U.S. Open, Coco Gauff Is Playing With a Veteran’s Confidence

“I was really delusional then,” Gauff said of that 2019 match with Osaka. “It was my first U.S. Open, and I thought I was going to go out flying colors. And, yeah, I didn’t.” She added: “I’m definitely happy that people expected things of me, but I think it’s more focused on my expectations of myself than other people’s.”

After Keys won the opening game of the first set, Gauff won six of the next seven to take the set. The victory did not come as easily as the game differential would indicate, though, as Keys forced Gauff to sprint across the court and hit shots from strenuous angles.

In the second game, both struggled to secure a win, constantly going from an advantage back to deuce. As Keys forced Gauff to run seemingly everywhere on the court with powerful shots and with Gauff holding the advantage, it seemed as though the game were heading back to deuce. But Gauff connected on a forehand close to the net that landed just behind Keys to take the game and let out an emphatic scream as the crowd roared with her.

Gauff, one of the most popular players in tennis, has had a significant crowd advantage through her first two matches, receiving a stadium’s worth of roars when she wins and sighs of disappointment when her opponent gets the best of her. Friday was slightly different as the crowd consistently celebrated Keys, a fellow American. It was a luxury Gauff’s other opponents didn’t enjoy. Three siblings sitting next to each other close to the court seemed to be having a match of their own as one screamed, “Go Madison!” as loudly as possible while another yelled, “Go, Coco!”

The cheers for Keys faded, though, as she launched a ball and let out a frustrated scream while the crowd clapped for Gauff. Then, she bounced back, and so did the crowd roars, winning that game and the next to bring the total to 4-3 in the second set. But Keys’s run ended there, and Gauff dominated the remainder of the set to win the match.

Gauff and Zhang have faced each other once in singles. Gauff won, 7-6 (1), 7-5, at the Miami Open in March. Last year, they played each other in doubles as Zhang and Samantha Stosur won the U.S. Open women’s doubles title over Gauff and Caty McNally.