American teenager Coco Gauff stormed back from a set down to defeat World No.1 Aryna Sabalenka and capture her first major on home soil at the US Open.
Gauff claimed her first major title by prevailing 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 over No.2 seed Sabalenka in just over two hours under a closed roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday night.
The 19-year-old is the 10th teenager to win the US Open women’s title all-time and the first American teenager to be crowned at her home major since Serena Williams won as a 17-year-old in 1999.
In addition to Williams, Gauff joins Tracy Austin, Stefanie Graf, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Maria Sharapova, Bianca Andreescu, and Emma Raducanu on New York’s under-20 roll of honor.
After losing her first Grand Slam singles final to Iga Swiatek at Roland Garros last spring in straight sets, Gauff had an inauspicious start to her second. Sabalenka’s big hitting was finding its mark more often than not in the first eight games, and she broke Gauff three times to take a one-set lead.
“I feel like I’m a little bit in shock in this moment. That French Open loss was a heartbreak for me, but I realize that God puts you through tribulations and trials, and that makes this moment even sweeter than I could’ve imagined. I just knew that if I didn’t give it my all, I had no shot at winning,” Gauff said after the match.
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.
The American teenager 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.
The 19-year-old came into these championships as the hottest player on the WTA Tour, having won lead-in titles in Washington D.C., and Cincinnati, and checked off milestones with every victory. The title in the nation’s capital was her first at WTA 500 level, and her triumph in Ohio was her first WTA 1000.
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.