Coco Gauff has been regarded as the future of women’s tennis since she was fifteen. That future arrived on Saturday at the US Open, in the form of her first Grand Slam championship.
The 19-year-old American outlasted No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka, the new top player in the WTA, in a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 thriller in the US Open final at Arthur Ashe Stadium. She becomes the 11th teenager to ever win a Grand Slam singles title, and the question now becomes how many more lie ahead.
It took an epic comeback against Madison Keys for Sabalenka to reach the final, but this time there was no slow start from the Belarusian. Sabalenka opened the match by breaking Gauff in front of a very partial New York City crowd that had been rooting for the American US Open champion since Sloane Stephens in 2017.
Gauff broke Sabalenka back three games later, but that was the last game she would win in the first set. Sabalenka, one of the hardest hitters on tour, showed form so overwhelming that not even Gauff’s speed could neutralize her.
This was especially evident at a wild point when Sabalenka tried to consolidate a lead. Gauff covered all parts of the court, but that just gave Sabalenka the opportunity to hit her harder and harder:
Gauff got the momentum change the crowd was looking for early in the second set, breaking Sabalenka to go up 3-1 and holding serve from there to take the second set. Gauff became increasingly aggressive instead of letting Sabalenka pound the ball in extended rallies, and started winning some really wild points:
Gauff kept the pressure up in the third set, breaking Sabalenka twice to take a comfortable lead. She made zero unforced errors in the first four games of the set, while Sabalenka made nine as her composure began to fade.
Towards the end of the match, Gauff showed a form that looked impossible to beat. Her speed alone made her a nightmare for opponents to put away, but combined with the shot she showed against Sabalenka, it becomes clear why so much has been expected of her over the past four years.
All these parts finally came together this year in New York. As long as Gauff can keep them together, there are no limits to what can be expected from her in the next decade.