Coco Gauff’s breakthrough summer hit a career-best apex on Saturday, as the American teenager won the US Open with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Aryna Sabalenka.
A previous Grand Slam finalist at the 2022 French Open, the No.6 seed Gauff claimed her first major title by prevailing over No.2 seed Sabalenka in just over two hours under a closed roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Gauff now holds a 4-2 lead in their head-to-head series overall (they have split their two meetings this season).
"It means so much to me," Gauff said during the trophy presentation. "I feel like I’m a little bit in shock in this moment. That French Open loss was a heartbreak for me, but I realized God puts you through tribulations and trials, and that makes this moment even sweeter than I could imagine.
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"My dad took me to this tournament, sitting right there, watching Venus and Serena compete, so it’s really incredible to be here on this stage."
Championship surge: Following her first-round loss to Grand Slam champion Sofia Kenin at 2023 Wimbledon, Gauff immediately rebounded with aplomb, hitting multiple milestones during this summer’s hard-court swing. Gauff won her first WTA 500 title in Washington D.C., then followed up by winning her first WTA 1000 title in Cincinnati.
By ending the swing with her first Grand Slam title, Gauff stands at 16-0 in the United States since this summer began. Her only loss during the North American hard-court swing was to eventual champion Jessica Pegula in the quarterfinals at Montreal, Canada.
Gauff is projected to rise to a new career-high ranking of World No.3 in Monday’s updated singles rankings, having previously peaked at World No.4 earlier this season. She and her doubles partner Pegula will also be co-World No.1’s in Monday’s new doubles rankings.
Fast facts: The 19-year-old Gauff is the first American teenager to win a Grand Slam singles title this century. Prior to this fortnight, the most recent American teenager to win a major was Serena Williams, when she won her very first Grand Slam title at the 1999 US Open aged 17.
Additionally, Gauff becomes only the fourth American teenager to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era (since 1968), joining Chris Evert, Tracy Austin and Serena Williams.
Meanwhile, reigning Australian Open champion Sabalenka falls one match short of winning her second Grand Slam title of the season and her career. Nevertheless, her breakthrough showings at the majors this year have helped propel her to the World No.1 ranking, which she will officially claim for the first time this coming Monday.
Tale of the tape: The first set was overwhelmingly Sabalenka's, who had eight winners to Gauff's three, and broke the American's serve three times. Sabalenka won the last four games of the opener to sweep into the second set with the momentum.
However, Gauff's already sterling defense became nearly impenetrable as the second set progressed, vigorously racing down balls and drawing more rally errors from Sabalenka. Gauff claimed the only break of the second set to lead 3-1, staving off three break points in that set as she leveled affairs at a set apiece.
Now spreading the court with excellent angles while losing none of her speed, Gauff built a commanding 4-0 lead in the third set. Sabalenka got one break back to reach 4-2, but a crosscourt winner allowed Gauff to regain the double-break lead at 5-2.
Serving for a Grand Slam title for the first time, Gauff was totally unfazed, and she closed out the match at love to take home her first major trophy, polishing the victory off with a sublime passing winner.