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Sport

Sevastova picks up first win of year to send Gauff to exit

Aug 31, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Cori Gauff (USA) hits the ball against Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) on day one of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Anastasija Sevastova beat American teenager Coco Gauff 6-3 5-7 6-4 to claim her first match win of the year on Monday and advance to the second round of the U.S. Open.

In a ragged, scrappy affair packed with breaks, double faults and unforced errors, it was the 30-year-old Latvian who made one fewer mistake, collecting her first success of 2020 on the fourth match point when 16-year-old Gauff sent a timid return into the net.

It marked the first opening round exit from a grand slam for Gauff, a crowd favourite at Flushing Meadows pre-COVID-19 when spectators were allowed into the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

“I was just calm in the end,” said Sevastova, a U.S. Open semifinalist in 2018. “Somehow I managed to be calm and stayed there and took my chances.

“I love being here, even in the bubble. I love the atmosphere, even now it doesn’t matter I have just amazing memories from the years before.

“And finally I won a match.”

After dropping the opening set Gauff somehow managed to win the second despite being broken three times, registering seven double faults and committing 16 unforced errors.

But when it mattered it was the teenager showing far more composure than her 30-year-old opponent who was left smashing her racquet when Gauff broke her twice over the final four games and then held serve to level the contest.

The errors dropped and quality improved in a much tighter third set, Sevastova getting the only break at 5-4 to clinch victory.

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Kim Coghill

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