Some names in tennis just work well together: Venus Williams and Serena Williams. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan. Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert.
But the 2023 US Open has provided us with a unexpected pairing: Novak Djokovic and Coco Gauff.
The two have become something of a tandem billing throughout the tournament at Arthur Ashe Stadium. For all five of their respective matches, Djokovic and Gauff have played back-to-back on Ashe, including twice during the primetime night session. On Tuesday, they both advanced to the semifinals during their consecutive day-session matches.
In fact, their current streak as dual headliners actually dates back to before the tournament as they played back-to-back on Center Court at the Western & Southern Open in their respective singles finals last month. Both won — and their joint good fortune has continued into the second week in New York.
The 19-year-old Gauff, who advanced to the first US Open semifinal of her career with a dominant 6-0, 6-2 victory over Jelena Ostapenko on Tuesday, has been the opening act for Djokovic, 36, throughout the fortnight, and she’s happily embraced the role as the tournament has progressed. After her third-round win on Friday night, ESPN’s Pam Shriver referred to Djokovic as Gauff’s “session partner” during the post-match on-court interview and Gauff then cheerfully said his name to the crowd.
Coco Gauff announces Novak Djokovic before he takes the court next at the US Open:
Pam Shriver: “Your session partner coming up next is…”
Coco: “NOVAK DJOKOVIC!” 😂 pic.twitter.com/0VwWixyAFb
— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) September 2, 2023
Then, after her match Tuesday, Gauff playfully took the microphone from Shriver to enthusiastically announce Djokovic — complete with biographical information — to those in attendance before his quarterfinal clash with American Taylor Fritz.
Coco takes to the mic and introduces Novak Djokovic
Coco Gauff ends her post-match interview with a quality introduction of Novak Djokovic before his quarterfinals match.
Djokovic went on to convincingly defeat Fritz in straight sets to advance to his 13th semifinal in New York and his 47th major semifinal — the most by a male player in history. While he didn’t get the opportunity to shout out Gauff during his postmatch interview — although he did lead the crowd in a singalong of the Beastie Boys’ “Fight For Your Right” — the 23-time major champion was effusive with praise last week when speaking to the media.
“I think things are coming together for her,” Djokovic said. “She played really good tennis in Cincinnati and also she’s been playing well here. She’s got the home support, of course, which is always welcome and needed. …
“It takes some time, a few years for things to come together where you feel that you are complete as a player, that you are ready to win Slams and dominate the game. I think she’s coming very close to that stage and that level. So I’m sure that she has very high hopes for [the] US Open and she should.”
Now that both players have reached the semifinals, they will not be playing on the same day again. Gauff will next play Thursday with a chance to reach the second Slam final of her career, and Djokovic will play Friday as he continues his quest to match Margaret Court’s all-time record for major titles. But their names could forever be linked together if both players were to win the titles this weekend.