There’s a new face in American women’s tennis – and she’s only 19 years old.
Coco Gauff won the US Women’s Open on Saturday, defeating Aryna Sabalenka 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
The victory marks Gauff’s first ever Grand Slam title in her second final.
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She is the youngest American, male or female, to win a US Open since Serena Williams won it in 2001 at age 19 (Williams also won two years earlier, when she was 17). Gauff also joins Williams and Tracy Austin as the only American teenagers to win the tournament.
Gauff’s victory didn’t come easy for her as she lost the first two games of the match. She responded by winning the next two, but then dropped the next four and lost the first set thanks to a series of unforced errors and some power behind Sabalenka’s punches.
But Gauff withstood the pressure and, with a huge home advantage in Queens, was able to win the second set 6-3 and force the final into a decisive third set.
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Gauff maintained the momentum and broke Sabalenka’s serve in a wild first game. Sabalenka had a few bad unforced errors and Gauff’s crazy defense led to the game-winner.
The teenager then held serve to take a 2-0 lead, broke Sabalenka’s serve to take a three-games-to-nil lead and then asserted herself again. At this point it was just a matter of how long the game would last.
Sabalenka held serve and reduced the deficit to 4-1 in the third set, ending a five-game losing streak. She then took a medical timeout, perhaps as a delaying tactic, and it worked a little as she broke Gauff’s serve to take the set 4-2. But only for a while.
Gauff broke Sabalenka for the third time, taking a 5-2 lead and holding serve to win. Gauff held her serve with ease while Sabalenka didn’t even score a point.
Gauff fell to the ground with tears in his eyes and a standing ovation from the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Then she found her family in the stands and gave everyone a big hug.
She won 12 of the last 18 games to secure victory.
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Gauff’s previous best result in Queens was the quarterfinals last year – she lost the 2022 French Open to Iga Swiatek.
Despite the defeat, Sabalenka is officially named the best player in the world after Swiatek lost in the round of 16.
But this is certainly a title Gauff can win sooner rather than later.