(September 9, 2023) FLUSHING, NY – No. 6 Coco Gauff beat No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 to win the US Open for her first major.
It was a very hard-hitting match between the two women. The crowd was in almost full support of the American teen.
The 19-year-old from Florida became the first American teen to win a major since 1999 when Serena Williams won the US Open. Gauff lost the final of last year’s French Open to Iga Swiatek in straight sets.
The Belarusian came out of the blocks on fire at times overpowering her opponent breaking serve twice to win the set 6-2.
Gauff came back in the second set to break Sabalenka’s serve in the fourth game of the set and held on to the advantage to take it 6-3.
“Well, I will say that in the first set I was dealing with my emotions quite good,” noted the Australian Open champion. I was focused on myself, not on the crowd or the way she move.
“Yeah, I mean, definitely she was moving just unbelievable today. But then the second set I start probably overthinking, and because of that I start kind of like losing my power. Then she start moving better. I start missing a lot of easy shots.
“I mean, the good news is that it’s me against me. The bad one is that I’m still having these issues playing against myself, I would say (s.
“But it’s okay. I’ll work harder so next time I’m not going to get even a little bit tired on court, and so I’ll be better.
Sabalenka’s blistering shots began to go off course and Gauff took advantage.
“Today on the court, I was overthinking and I was missing quite, like, not easy balls, but the balls I shouldn’t be missing.
“Like, that’s what I’m saying. I’m making a lot of winners and a lot of unforced errors. Today it was more about — not more about, it was unforced errors was a lot in the second set, and that’s where I get her believe that she can win this match. I get overemotional after the second set.”
“I would definitely say that she was moving really well and defending really great, better than anybody else,” Sabalenka said. “So I always had to play like an extra ball.”
Gauff jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the decider and even though Sabalenka got one of the breaks back, it was not enough – game, set, match and championship for Gauff 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
“It means so much to me,” Gauff said during the on-court trophy presentation. “I feel like I’m a little bit in shock in this moment. That French Open loss was a heartbreak for me, but I realized God puts you through tribulations and trials, and that makes this moment even sweeter than I could imagine.
“My dad took me to this tournament, sitting right there, watching Venus and Serena compete, so it’s really incredible to be here on this stage.”
The win will move Gauff to No. 3 in the world, while Sabalenka will rise to No. 1.
Coming into the tournament, Gauff won Washington and Cincinnati, a WTA 1000 event.
“Today I went into this match like it was any other match.” Gauff admitted. “I honestly wasn’t nervous going in. She was just playing great tennis, and 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.”Today I went into this match like it was any other match. I honestly wasn’t nervous going in. She was just playing great tennis, and 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.”
Sabalenka said: “That’s why I’m not super depressed right now (about becoming No. 1). I’m definitely going to be. I’m definitely going for a drink tonight if I’m allowed to say that. Yes, we are athletes, but sometimes we are drinking, but not much (smiling).
“But becoming a World No. 1, it’s a huge improvement, and achievement, actually. I’m really proud of myself that all those years I have been working so hard helped me to become World No. 1.
“But, you know, like, for me it’s more about end the year as World No. 1, not just like become World No. 1 and then next week you’re second. It’s good so that I can say I have been World No. 1, but I really would like to finish the year as World No. 1. That’s why I’m, like, still positive, and I’m still motivated.”
Gauff has been in the spotlight since junior days and talked about the challenges she’s had to deal with in terms of expectations.
“It’s been difficult,” Gauff said. “I mean, it’s been a long journey to this point. I wasn’t a fully developed player, and I still think I have a lot of development to go at that moment. I think people were putting a lot of pressure on me to win. I felt that at 15 I had to win a slam at 15. I think that was, you know, not the mistake, because everything led to this moment so there was no mistakes.
“But that was, like, a little bit of the pressure that I was feeling. Now I just realize that I just need to go out there and try my best. I mean, it was to the point where I remember I lost when I was 17 and there was a stat, they were like, Oh, she’s not going to win a slam before Serena’s age. It was stuff like that that I felt like I had a time limit on when I should win one, and if I won one after a certain age it wouldn’t be an achievement.
“Yeah, it’s just crazy the amount of things that I have heard or seen about myself, but I’m really happy of how I’ve been able to manage it all.”
“What has this experience of becoming a major champion mean to Gauff:
“I think the three words I would put it in is “Dreams come true,” and that this is crazy. I still have no words. I don’t think it can be put into words.
“But, you know, there is a song lyric that I want to use for my Instagram caption. It goes, “Concrete jungle, where dreams are made of.”
“Thank you. Yeah, that lyric is true. New York City is the city where dreams are made of.”
More to follow….