Speed of play was the main point of contention between the 19-year-old American and 35-year-old Laura Siegemund, who attempted to slow down play throughout the match. Siegemund’s strategy frustrated Gauff, who dropped the first set before turning things around for a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory.
Tensions grew throughout the match as Gauff and the pro-American crowd in Flushing Meadows began to notice Siegemund’s strategy.
I was really patient the whole match. She was going over the time since the first set. I never said anything. I would look at the umpire, and she didn’t do anything,” said Gauff. “Then obviously the crowd started to notice that she was taking long.”
It took until the third set for umpire Marijana Veljovic to call a time violation on the German. Her slow play continued, though, pushing Gauff to a breaking point where she approached the official and called Siegemund’s approach “unfair.” The crowd roared with approval, and when Gauff’s opponent tried to have her own conversation with Veljovic, they booed.
When Gauff was asked to describe what it was like to play in the intense, dramatic contest, she answered with one sarcastic word that sent the crown into a frenzy: “Slow.”
The treatment from the crowd, combined with the loss, brought Siegemund to tears in her post-match interview.
They treated me bad. They treated me like I was a cheater, like I was trying sneaky ways to win this match or something. They treated me like I was a bad person,” she said.
With the win, Gauff avoided a third consecutive defeat at a Grand Slam, following her first-round loss at Wimbledon in 2023. She could face a quarterfinal matchup with world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who Gauff defeated in Cincinnati earlier this month.