Coco Gauff: a tennis prodigy comes of age with US Open win

American 19-year-old battled back from a set down to claim first grand slam title

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff defeated Aryna Sabalenka 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the final at Flushing Meadows
(Image credit: J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday RM/Getty Images)

Ever since Coco Gauff first burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old qualifier at Wimbledon in 2019, it seemed inevitable she would one day win a grand slam title, said Stuart Fraser in The Times. And last Saturday, inside the world's biggest tennis stadium, that moment "finally came to pass". On a "thrilling evening of drama", the American battled back from a set down to beat second seed Aryna Sabalenka. It was a match that will perhaps be remembered less for its quality than "for the way in which Gauff was willed to victory by a feverish capacity crowd of 24,000 people". Nervous and error-prone throughout the first set, she claimed a crucial break early in the second set, and rarely looked back after that, running out a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 winner. The 19-year-old becomes the third American female teenager to have won the US Open, after Serena Williams and Tracy Austin. 

Gauff, who lived for most of her childhood in Delray Beach, Florida (with regular trips to the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in France), has always been a precocious talent, said Molly McElwee in The Daily Telegraph. But her rise to the top hasn't always been smooth, and she has admitted to having struggled with the weight of expectation – a burden only intensified by the "constant" comparisons with Serena Williams. "I remember I lost [a match] 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,'" Gauff said on Saturday. "I felt like I had a time limit on when I should win one." Her latest dip came this summer, when she crashed out of Wimbledon in the first round – a "humbling" defeat that forced a restructure of her coaching team, said Jonathan Jurejko on BBC Sport. Her father, Corey Gauff – her main coach since childhood – stepped back from his front-line role; Spaniard Pere Riba now "heads up" the team, with the "vastly experienced" Brad Gilbert – once coach to Andy Murray – as consultant. 

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