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American starlet, Coco Gauff exits US Open as organizers use 'enhanced protocol plan' after positive Covid test

 Coco Gauff lost her opening match at a different looking US Open against former semifinalist Anastasija Sevastova, while two fellow pros who came into contact with a player who tested positive for the coronavirus were allowed to compete on the opening day.

The 16-year-old Gauff fell 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to the 45th-ranked Latvian on what normally would have been a packed house at New York's Louis Armstrong Stadium, the event's second biggest court.
But amid the coronavirus pandemic, no fans are allowed. Instead, simulated crowd noises tried to fill the void Monday.

Gauff told reporters she didn't think the lack of a crowd factored into the result.

"I think I compete just as hard with fans or not," Gauff said. "I could have played better today. Just going to get back to work and get ready for the French Open."

The French Open, normally the second major on the tennis calendar, has been postponed until September. Wimbledon was canceled earlier this year.

Gauff rose to stardom at Wimbledon last year as a first-time qualifier when she upset Venus Williams, before losing to eventual champion Simona Halep.

She also lost to the eventual champion at the Australian Open in January, Sofia Kenin, while exiting to two-time grand slam winner Naomi Osaka in New York a year ago.

Indeed, it has taken some of tennis' finest to get the better of her. Sevastova fits the description, especially since she has reached the quarterfinals or better at the US Open in three of her past four visits and upset Serena Williams prior to the pandemic.

"I think it's tough for everybody coming here," Sevastova said. "But, yeah, this first hurdle, I won a match again. I think it's going to give me a bit of confidence. I just thought, like, I will fight till the end of this match, we will see how it goes. Coco, she's a great player. I mean, she's 16 years old and she's playing like that. I wish I would play like that at 16."

Gauff's all-around game and intelligence have won her plaudits, along with -- like Osaka -- taking a stand in the aftermath of Black people killed at the hands of police in the US.

The former junior standout spoke at a protest rally in her home city of Delray Beach, Florida, in June following the death of George Floyd and said following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin this month that she would continue to use tennis to "build my voice and make it louder so I can reach more people and create change."

"This summer I learned a lot about myself," Gauff said. "I learned that I can overcome a lot of things on and off the court. I still hope I can be that way and use my platform in that way."

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