19-year-old tennis sensation clinches first grand slam title with grit and grace.
In a stunning turn of events, 19-year-old Coco Gauff clinched her first Grand Slam title at the US Open 2023, a feat that seemed improbable just six weeks ago. After a disappointing early exit at Wimbledon, Gauff revamped her coaching team and entered the hard court season with modest expectations. However, her performance has been nothing short of remarkable, winning 18 out of 19 matches, including the critical seven that led her to this triumphant moment.
Start to Final Match
Overcoming a shaky start in the final match, Gauff demonstrated exceptional adaptability and control. She defeated Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus in a hard-fought battle, with a final score of 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. Gauff’s resilience and ability to make crucial adjustments during the match solidified her victory, making her a major champion for the ages.
This historic win cements Gauff’s place in tennis history, as she becomes only the third American teenager to secure the US Open women’s title. Her predecessors in this exclusive club include Tracy Austin in 1979 and the iconic Serena Williams in 1999.
“The first set, I was dealing with my emotions quite well,” Sabalenka admitted. “I was focused on myself, not on the crowd or the way she moves. Definitely, she was moving just unbelievably today. Then, in the second set, I started probably overthinking, and as a result, I lost my power. She began moving better, and I started missing a lot of easy shots.”
A pivotal moment exemplifying Gauff’s agility came in the opening point of the final set. Sabalenka, attempting to dictate the rally, pushed Gauff from sideline to sideline until she finally had an opportunity to strike a powerful shot into the backhand corner. However, Gauff’s remarkable court coverage allowed her to retrieve a lob just deep enough to challenge Sabalenka’s footwork. In a stumbling backward motion, Sabalenka’s shot crashed into the net.
Gauff capitalized on that momentum, securing an early break to lead 3-0 in the third set. Sabalenka struggled to find an extra gear, repeatedly attempting to overpower Gauff but failing to sustain rallies.
This performance mirrored past instances in Sabalenka’s career when her unwavering commitment to offensive play resulted in erratic swings under pressure. “I got over-emotional,” Sabalenka conceded.
In the early stages of the match, it appeared that Sabalenka might dominate, as she successfully targeted Gauff’s forehand. Arguably her weakest aspect – and controlled the middle of the court. After Sabalenka claimed the first set with relative ease, some wondered if Gauff would face a fate similar to her first Grand Slam final, where she lost 6-1, 6-3 to Iga Swiatek at the French Open last year.
However, Gauff’s resilience, adaptability, and unwavering determination proved to be the winning formula, and she now stands as the US Open 2023 champion, etching her name in the chronicles of tennis history.
Banner photo via Instagram @cocogauff.