United States teenager Coco Gauff has beaten Belarusian second seed Aryna Sabalenka 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the US Open women’s final to claim her first Grand Slam title.
With the win on Saturday, sixth seed Gauff became the first American to win a US Open singles title since Sloane Stephens in 2017.
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Gauff, 19, fed off an adoring home crowd as she mounted a terrific second set fight back and kept the momentum up through until the end of the battle before she fell to the court on Arthur Ashe Stadium after clinching the title with a backhand winner.
Sabalenka had a superb start but could not keep the momentum going as unforced errors piled up and she closed her 2023 Grand Slam run, which included an Australian Open title and semifinals at Roland Garros as well as Wimbledon, on a disappointing note.
Gauff, who is from Florida, is the first American teenager to win the country’s major tennis tournament since Serena Williams in 1999.
This is the sort of triumph that had – fairly or not – been expected of Gauff ever since she burst onto the scene at 15 by becoming the youngest qualifier in Wimbledon history and making it to the fourth round in her Grand Slam debut in 2019.
She reached her initial major final at last year’s French Open, finishing as the runner-up, and now has earned the biggest trophy of her still-nascent career. Gauff earned a 12th consecutive victory and 18th in her past 19 matches dating to a first-round exit at the All England Club in July.
The number six-seeded Gauff did it on Saturday by withstanding the power displayed by Sabalenka on nearly every swing of her racket, eventually getting accustomed to it and managing to get back shot after shot. Gauff broke to begin the third set on just one such point, tracking down every ball hit her way until eventually smacking a put-away volley that she punctuated with a fist pump and a scream of, “Come on!”
Soon it was 4-0 in that set for Gauff. At 4-1, Sabalenka took a medical timeout while her left leg was massaged. Gauff stayed sharp during the break – it lasted a handful of minutes, not the 50 as during a climate protest in the semifinals – by practising some serves.
When the game resumed, Sabalenka broke to get within 4-2. But Gauff broke right back and soon was serving out the victory, then dropping onto her back on the court. She soon climbed into the stands to find her parents and others for hugs.
“You did it!” Gauff’s mom told her, with both of them in tears.