No.3 seed Coco Gauff booked a spot in her second final of the year at the Mubadala Citi DC Open, toppling No.8 seed and defending champion Liudmila Samsonova 6-3, 6-3 in their semifinal showdown on Saturday.
"I'm super happy with how I played today," Gauff said after her win. "Playing defending champion is never easy. She's a player that goes really hard on every ball."
World No.7 Gauff continued her superb run this week with the 1-hour and 42-minute win over 18th-ranked Samsonova -- her 20th career victory over a Top 20 player. Gauff has only lost a total of 14 games in her three wins this week.
Gauff is now one victory away from her fourth career Hologic WTA Tour singles title, and her second of the year. Gauff picked up a title in Auckland in the first week of the 2023 season.
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Sakkari next up: In Sunday’s final, Gauff will square off against No.4 seed Maria Sakkari for the first time this year. Sakkari holds a 4-1 lead over Gauff in their head-to-head, including wins in both of their meetings last year.
Fast facts: Gauff had won both of her prior meetings with Samsonova, but she needed three sets on each of those occasions. However, Gauff got the win in straight sets on the hardcourts of Washington, snapping Samsonova’s eight-match winning streak in the American capital.
This week, 19-year-old Gauff became just the third player to reach the Mubadala Citi DC Open semifinals as a teenager, joining Sloane Stephens in 2012 and Caty McNally in 2019. However, by going one step further, Gauff became the first teenager to reach the final of this event.
"I did say at the beginning of this year that I wanted to do better in these [WTA] 500 and 1000-level tournaments," Gauff said. "I made the semis in Dubai and semis in Berlin, so I'm happy to finally get through to the final."
Gauff had never won a main-draw singles match in Washington before this week. In her only prior tournament appearance, Gauff qualified for the 2019 main draw but lost in the first round to Zarina Diyas. However, that same week, Gauff teamed with McNally to win her first tour-level doubles title.
19, 145 - At 19 years and 145 days, Cori Gauff is the first teenager and thus the youngest player to reach the women's singles final at Washington, since the tournament's inaugural edition in 2011. Path.#MubadalaCitiDCOpen | @WTA @WTA_insider pic.twitter.com/X7mpbDs339— OptaAce (@OptaAce) August 5, 2023
Match breakdown: Gauff eased through the opening set without facing a break point, and she took an early 2-1 lead in the second set by converting her fifth break point of a lengthy game with a rally volley winner.
Big-hitting Samsonova pressed harder for the rest of the match, holding a total of five break points in Gauff’s next two service games. However, the American teen erased all of those chances to maintain her advantage, and she broke Samsonova one more time in the final game.
Gauff had 20 winners on the day as she claimed the victory without dropping her serve. Samsonova posted 24 winners, but those were undone by 50 unforced errors.