By: Gyang Dakwo
Teenager Coco Gauff mounted a fierce comeback to beat Belarusian second seed Aryna Sabalenka 2-6 6-3 6-2 in the U.S. Open women’s final on Saturday, claiming her first Grand Slam title and cementing her place in American tennis royalty.
With the win, sixth seed Gauff became the first American to win a U.S. Open singles title since Sloane Stephens in 2017.
Gauff, 19, fed off noisy local support as she fought back in the second set and kept the momentum going until the end of the battle, before falling to the court on Arthur Ashe Stadium as she clinched 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 semi-finals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, on a disappointing note.
“It doesn’t get more dramatic than that, to be honest,” said Gauff, who lost in her only previous major final appearance last year at Roland Garros.
“I knew today was going to be one of those problem-solving tough matches because she’s a tough opponent, so I’m obviously happy with the result.”
The 25-year-old Sabalenka, who will take over as world number one in the new rankings, had ended Gauff’s run at Indian Wells earlier this year but told reporters this week she expected a “different player” in Saturday’s final.