Coco Gauff says ‘it’s like a hostage situation’ amid US Open protest

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    The US Open semi-final between Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchova was held up for almost an hour after a climate protester glued themselves to the floor.

    Three people, wearing T-shirts bearing the words ‘fossil fuels’ began shouting after the first game of the second set, forcing play to be stopped. American teenager Gauff and Czech 10th seed Muchova initially stayed on the court for about 10 minutes while security tried to deal with the situation.

    The Arthur Ashe crowd at one point began chanting “kick them out” with the protesters apparently being difficult to shift. It later transpired that while two of the protesters had been removed, a third had somehow glued his bare feet to the concrete.

    “Are they like talking to them or are they going to remove them?” Gauff asked chair umpire Alison Hughes and tournament referee Jake Garner.

    READ MORE: US Open tennis star changes outfit mid-match as pundit questions her antics

    She then spoke to her coach, Brad Gilbert, saying “they say they are negotiating, like it’s a hostage situation. What should I do?”

    Gauff went on to win 6-4 7-5. After the match, she said: “I just treated it [the protest] like a rain delay. The only thing which was harder was that we had to leave the court and didn't know if it would be five minutes or an hour."

    Both players eventually left the court with Gauff leading 6-4 1-0. They returned at 8.50pm local time and, after a warm-up, play resumed 50 minutes after the last point.

    It is not the first time a major tennis tournament has been disrupted by protesters. At Wimbledon this year Just Stop Oil activists caused two matches, one involving Britain’s Katie Boulter, to be suspended after running onto the court throwing jigsaw pieces and confetti. Last year’s French Open semi-final between Casper Ruud and Marin Cilic also had to be temporarily halted after a woman tied herself to the net.

    In the final, Gauff will meet Aryna Sabalenka, who came from a set and a break down to deny the crowd an all-American final. The second seed, who will rise to world number one on Monday, lost the first set to love against Madison Keys, but hit back to win 0-6 7-6 (1) 10-5.

    Sabalenka said: “I thought we played a tie-break up to seven. I was all over the place. Thanks team for reminding me it’s up to 10. She played incredible tennis, another level. Somehow, I don’t know how actually I turned around this match. Being in the final of the US Open for the first time means a lot.”

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