Climate change protesters disrupted the US Open women’s semi-finals on Friday, causing a 45-minute delay after one glued his bare feet to the ground.
Three of the group were quickly ejected but a fourth had glued his feet to the ground, which resulted in the players being escorted off court as New York police officers worked to free him.
Following the disruption, crowd favourite Gauff went on to seal a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Muchova and booked her place in Saturday’s final, her second Grand Slam singles showpiece after last year’s French Open, where she lost in straight sets to Iga Swiatek.
She will face Aryna Sabalenka in Saturday’s final after the prospective new world No1 bounced back from a dreadful start in the second semi-final to defeat Gauff’s compatriot Madison Keys 0-6, 7-6, 7-6.
Afterwards, Gauff said she had predicted there would be a climate change protest but not until the weekend’s finals.
She said: “This morning, I told myself, I bet there’s going to be a climate change protest in the final. I didn’t think it was going to be in the semi-final. Immediately when it happened, I said it’s a protest. Something this morning told me it was going to happen this weekend.
“I treated it like a rain delay. The only thing that was harder was we had to leave the court and the security guy said it could be five minutes or an hour.”
Following the incident, the US Open said in a statement: “Following the first game of the second set in the Gauff-Muchova match, play was halted due to a protest conducted by four protesters.
“Three of the four protesters were escorted out of the stadium without further incident. The fourth protester affixed their bare feet to the floor of the seating bowl. Due to the nature of this action, NYPD and medical personnel were needed in order to safely remove this individual from this stadium. The four protestors were taken into NYPD custody.”
Gauff had been comfortably in control of the match and raced into a 5-1 lead before Muchova, who had struggled early on, finally forced her way back into the contest only for the American to seal the set.
Just one game into the second set, the disruption happened, leading to the lengthy delay - much to the chagrin of booing fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
It proved a far tighter contest on the resumption of play as Muchova threatened to pull off an upset in front of a partisan crowd.
The penultimate point of the match was a 40-point rally, which Gauff won to give her a match point which she duly converted.