Coco Gauff capped off her incredible hard-court summer by capturing the first Major title of her career at the US Open with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Aryna Sabalenka.
The 19-year-old Gauff had been unquestionably the best player on the WTA since Wimbledon, going 17-1 heading into the championship match in New York. Over the past two months, she captured a 500-level title in Washington D.C. and then the 1000 event in Cincinnati before her stirring run to the title this past week at the US Open.
Not satisfied with how her game was trending earlier this year, Gauff made changes to her team, adding Pere Riba to her coaching staff just before Wimbledon and then the legendary Brad Gilbert right after The Championships. The impact was immediate and Gauff’s confidence skyrocketed to match her already impressive array of skill on the court.
The draw posed challenges to Gauff, as she had talented teenager Mirra Andreeva in her section of the draw along with what many expected would be a quarter-final encounter with World No. 1 Iga Swiatek awaiting her.
Gauff dealt with a couple of early-round challenges including a match against former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the round of sixteen before settling in and finding another level. Rather than Swiatek, it was big-hitting Jelena Ostapenko who awaited her in the quarters and Gauff dispatched her with ease 6-0, 6-2.
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In the final, World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka was Gauff’s final obstacle and the two put on a terrific show for the crowd. In their first career meeting in a major, the two brought their best. It was a great contrast in styles between Gauff’s athleticism and speed against Sabalenka’s powerful serve and groundstrokes.
The pair traded early breaks in the first set but it was mostly one-way traffic for Sabalenka who seemed more at ease out of the gate, taking the first set relatively quickly by a score of 6-2.
In the second set, Sabalenka started strong and gained two break point chances on Gauff’s serve at 15-40, but the American managed to secure the important hold. Gauff was now making her opponent hit more shots and her court coverage was also improving.
Sabalenka waivered on her own serve and double-faulted to give Gauff an important break and a 3-1 lead. The crowd suddenly came alive and it was no surprise that they were inspired by the suddenly improving play from the 19-year-old American. Gauff took the second set to their delight 6-3.
The opening game of the final set saw Gauff cover the court in a way that only she can. She finished it off with an explosive overhead smash after reaching a drop shot from Sabalenka for a quick break of serve.
The forehand errors started to pile up for Sabalenka and Gauff broke once more for a 3-0 lead. There was no looking back from there and the American captured the first Slam of her young career 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Rest of the Field
Iga Swiatek went out in the round of sixteen to the enigmatic Jelena Ostapenko who had everything clicking in a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory, losing her No. 1 ranking in the process. It brings the Latvian’s record to a perfect 4-0 in their career head-to-head and perhaps offers a bit of a glimpse into how to beat the often-unbeatable Swiatek.
How about the Grand Slam return of former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki? After retiring from the game in January 2020 after the Aussie Open, she returned earlier this summer at the Omnium Banque Nationale in Montreal and had only two tournaments under her belt heading into New York.
She upset 11th seed Petra Kvitova in the second round and pushed eventual champ Coco Gauff to three sets in their fourth-round encounter.
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Other notable results include the ever-rising Qinwen Zheng who made the first Major quarter-final of her career and took out fifth-seeded Ons Jabeur in the process. Karolina Muchova also continued her excellent form in 2023 by making the semifinals before falling to Gauff in a rematch of their final in Cincinnati.
In the singles draw, it was not easy for Canadian tennis players. Bianca Andreescu couldn’t play as she continues to recover from her latest injury, a small fracture in her back. That left Leylah Annie Fernandez and Rebecca Marino as the lone entries and neither unfortunately was able to make it past the opening round.
Fernandez had her hands full when her name was placed next to 22nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, who defeated her in three sets.
Marino was also in tough against Patricia Maria Tig who beat her in two tiebreaks.
In a tournament devoid of singles accomplishments to boast of on the Canadian side, Gaby Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe gave the country plenty to celebrate in doubles.
The 16th seeded tandem had only played a couple of summer events together but caught fire at Flushing Meadows where they defeated Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva 7-6(9), 6-3 to claim the title. It was a first career women’s doubles major championship for the two.
Both players spoke glowingly about one another after the victory with Routliffe saying, “Thanks to Gaby for playing with me. She really took a chance on me and I really appreciate her and love her for it.”
Dabrowski replied with equally kind comments saying, “First and foremost, thank you to Erin. You took a chance on me too. It’s been a tough year for us both and I’m really, really proud of the way we’ve stuck with each other through thick and thin.”
The pair take home $700,000 US for the win which is the biggest payday either player has received in their professional careers and a big boost for the two very deserving champions.