Gauff turns Olympic disappointment into Canadian win

Montreal (AFP) –


Olympic absentee Coco Gauff played her first match since Wimbledon on Tuesday and came away with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Anastasija Sevastova to reach the second round of the WTA hardcourt tournament in Montreal.

The US teenager had to abort her planned trip to Tokyo when she tested positive for COVID-19 on the eve of her departure for Japan.

"The timing of it was terrible, but the actual experience wasn't too bad," Gauff said.

"I didn't have symptoms other than loss of smell. My dad and my brother had it at the same time as me so I didn't have to quarantine alone. They also didn't have many symptoms.

"We were one of the lucky ones. I know unfortunately other people weren't as lucky. I'm super grateful that I was able to come out of it unharmed and unscarred."

The 17-year-old eighth seed shrugged off the bitter career disappointment once on court in Canada with victory in 67 minutes.

The win was a first for Gauff in the series after losing her first three against Latvia's Sevastova.

"I can't sit here and lie and say I didn't think about it," Gauff said of her losing record against Sevastova. "I for sure thought about it.

"Our last couple matches we split sets almost every time. I just focused more on this match and didn't worry about previous ones."

Gauff came back in the second set from an early break down and advanced on her second match point.

Sloane Stephens, a finalist in 2018, also recovered from 2-4 down to advance past Dayana Yastremska 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.

Stephens was badly outpaced by Yastremska's 27 winners to her own seven but managed to grind out a win in nearly two hours.

She sprinted to the finish, winning 15 of the last 19 points to book a clash with top-seeded Aryna Sabalenka.

American Jessica Pegula, an Australian open quarter-finalist, eliminated another Baltic player, beating Estonian Anett Kontaveit 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.

British No. 1 Johanna Konta, another who missed Tokyo due to an unlucky virus test, reached the second round in her first match since mid-June as China's Zhang Shuai retired with a leg injury. Zhang had won the first set 6-4 but was trailing 5-2 in the second when she called it quits.