Sloane Stephens hits a backhand to Coco Gauff in the second round of the 2021 U.S. Open Tennis Championships on Wednesday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 1 (UPI) -- Unseeded American Sloane Stephens cruised to a straight-sets win over No. 21 seed Cori "Coco" Gauff in the second round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament Wednesday in Flushing, N.Y.
Stephens, who won the event in 2017, was locked at 4-all with Gauff in the first set before pulling away inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. Stephens claimed eight of the remaining 10 games to reach the third round.
"I love Coco. I think everyone knows I love Coco," Stephens said after her victory. "At the end of the match, I said, 'I love you.' She's such a great player and I feel so lucky to have seen her grow up and play since she was eight."
Earlier Wednesday, third-seeded Naomi Osaka -- the defending U.S. Open champion -- advanced to the third round after the withdrawal of her opponent, Olga Danilovic.
Danilovic later revealed that she was forced to pull out of the tournament due to a "non-COVID-related viral illness."
Simona Halep, meanwhile, reached the third round in New York for the first time since 2016. The 12th-seeded Halep rolled to a 6-3, 6-1 win over Kristina Kucova.
No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka, No. 5 Elina Svitolina, No. 8 Barbora Krejcikova, No. 9 Garbine Muguruza, No. 15 Elise Mertens and No. 18 Victoria Azarenka each advanced to the next round with straight-sets victories.
On the men's side of the U.S. Open, second-seeded Daniil Medvedev claimed a dominant 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win over Germany's Dominik Koepfer to advance.
No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev, No. 12 Felix Auger-Aliassime and No. 18 Roberto Bautista Agut earned second-round wins to move on. Britain's Daniel Evans -- seeded 24th -- also advanced with a four-set win over American Marcos Giron.
No. 8 seed Casper Ruud, No. 15 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 16 Cristian Garin, however, all suffered upset losses in the second round. Alexei Popyrin defeated Dimitrov in straight sets, while Ruud and Garin both lost in four sets.