There is a new face of American women’s tennis – and she’s just 19 years old.
Coco Gauff won the Women’s U.S. Open on Saturday, defeating Aryna Sabalenka, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
The win marks Gauff’s first-ever grand slam title in just her second final.
She is the youngest American, male or female, to win a U.S. Open since Serena Williams did so at age 19 in 2001 (Williams also won two years prior when she was 17). Gauff also joins Williams and Tracy Austin as the only American teenagers to win the tournament.
Gauff’s victory did not come easily as she lost the first two games of the match. She answered by winning the next two, however, she then dropped the next four to lose the first set thanks to a bunch of unforced errors and some power behind Sabalenka’s shots.
But Gauff rose to the pressure, and with a huge home-court advantage in Queens, she was able to take the second set, 6-3, to force the final into a decisive third set.
Gauff held onto the momentum, breaking Sabalenka’s serve in a wild first game. Sabalenka had a couple of bad unforced errors, and Gauff’s crazy defense led to winning the game.
The teen then held her serve to go up 2-0, broke Sabalenka’s serve to go up three games to none, and then held her own again. At this point, it was just a matter of how much longer the match would take.
Sabalenka held her serve to cut the third-set deficit to 4-1, snapping a five-game losing streak. She then took a medical time-out, perhaps as a stalling tactic, and it worked a bit as she broke Gauff’s serve to make it a 4-2 set. But only for a bit.
Gauff broke Sabalenka for a third time to go up 5-2 and serve for the victory. Gauff held her serve with ease as Sabalenka didn’t even get a point.
Gauff fell to the floor with tears in her eyes and a standing ovation from the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium. She then found her family in the stands, giving everyone a huge hug.
She won 12 of the final 18 games to claim the victory.
Gauff’s previous best finish in Queens was in the quarterfinals last year – she lost the 2022 French Open to Iga Swiatek.
Despite the loss, Sabalenka will be officially named the world’s No. 1-ranked women’s player after Swiatek lost in the Round of 16.
But that is certainly a title Gauff can take sooner rather than later.