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[Sport] US Open 2023 results: Coco Gauff beats Aryna Sabalenka in New York


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American teenager Coco Gauff fulfilled the potential she has long promised by landing her first Grand Slam title with a fightback win over Aryna Sabalenka in the US Open final.

Gauff, seeded sixth, started slowly in front of an expectant home crowd but grew in confidence to wear down second seed Sabalenka in New York.

Gauff, 19, clinched a 2-6 6-3 6-2 win on a delirious Arthur Ashe Stadium.

 

"I feel like I'm in a little bit of shock at the moment," Gauff said.

"I feel like God puts you through tribulations and trials and that makes this even sweeter," added the American, who lost in her only other major singles final at the 2022 French Open.

"I'm thankful for this moment. I don't have any words."

 

Australian Open champion Sabalenka, meanwhile, must wait for a second major title.

The 25-year-old Belarusian can at least console herself with the knowledge she will become the world number one for the first time.

Gauff will rise to a career-high third when the latest rankings are released on Monday - but claiming her first major at her home Grand Slam is what really matters.

When sealing victory with a backhand winner on her first championship point, Gauff immediately fell on to the court and laid on the sideline with her hands covering her face.

Almost the whole 24,000 crowd, which provided boisterous support throughout as they willed Gauff to victory, erupted in a frenzied celebration.

Gauff, overcome with emotion, made a heart sign to the fans before going up to the stands to see her parents Corey and Candi.

 

All three hugged and jumped in a circle as the family's sacrifices and hard work had resulted in one of the sport's biggest prizes.

Asked to describe that moment, a laughing Gauff said: "When I hugged my dad, I didn't see him, because he went immediately for the embrace - but I heard him crying.

"I have never seen that man cry in my life. My mum, I knew she was going to cry regardless if I won or lost.

"Honestly [I was thinking] nothing. The whole time I was saying to myself, 'Oh my goodness, how is this real?"

 

From teenage phenomenon to Grand Slam champion

 

Since Gauff burst on to the scene as a 15-year-old phenomenon at Wimbledon in 2019, there have been expectations she would eventually become a Grand Slam champion.

Now, following a significant but steady rise as she got to grips with the professional tour, she has become the first American teenager to win the US Open since Serena Williams in 1999.

What makes it more remarkable is the way Gauff has turned her form around after a deflating first-round exit at Wimbledon in July.

Gauff has restored confidence in her groundstrokes, as well as developing an unwavering belief she can still turn matches around even when she is not playing well.

That was the key to grinding her way back into contention against Sabalenka.

 

Gauff's forehand has come under scrutiny and Sabalenka particularly attacked that wing in the early stages when she broke on the way to a 2-1 lead.

Both players were unable to find their best level in a strange first set, the pair exchanging three more breaks of serve before Sabalenka sealed the opener with Gauff not offering enough consistency in the rallies.

 

After needing to save two break points in the first game, Gauff improved considerably in the second set.

She defended the baseline with incredible athleticism and anticipation, returning much better to force Sabalenka into mistakes.

A double fault from the Belarusian on a break point handed over a 3-1 lead, with Gauff growing in confidence to close out the set and level.

Momentum continued with Gauff in the deciding set, two early breaks putting the teenager in command before she confidently served out to love.

It was the third time over the past fortnight - following an opening win against German qualifier Laura Siegemund and a third-round victory over Belgian 32nd seed Elise Mertens - where she has fought back to win.

 

"Definitely she was moving just unbelievable," said Sabalenka, whose 46 unforced errors outweighed 24 winners.

"The second set I start probably overthinking and because of that I started losing my power. Then she started moving better and I started missing a lot of easy shots.

"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'm burning so bright now' - Gauff tells doubters

 

Gauff's victory is the culmination of an outstanding North American hard-court swing, where she won the biggest titles of her career in Washington and Cincinnati.

Since the Wimbledon defeat, she has recovered by winning 18 of her 19 matches and beating Sabalenka is a career-best 12th victory in a row.

"I want to say 'thank you' to the people who didn't believe in me," Gauff said.

 

"A month ago I won a WTA 500 title [in Washington] and people said I would stop at that.

"Two weeks ago I won a 1000 title [in Cincinnati] and people were saying that was the biggest title I would get.

"Three weeks later, I'm here with this trophy right now.

 

"I tried my best to carry on with with grace but, honestly, to those who thought you were putting water on my fire, you were really adding gas to it.

"I'm burning so bright right now."

 

'A star is born' and 'a great champion' - reaction

 

There was no shortage of praise for Gauff following her breakthrough victory in front of a raucous New York crowd, with those present at Arthur Ashe Stadium and many others watching on from afar celebrating the teenager's triumph.

 

Among them was former US president Barack Obama, who congratulated her on social media, adding: "We couldn't be prouder of you on and off the court - and we know your best is yet to come."

Compatriot and 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens called Gauff "amazing", while boxing legend Mike Tyson said: "Coco! You did it! America and the world are celebrating!"

 

Commentating for BBC Radio 5 Live, American former player Jeff Tarango said: "How eloquent she was when she was talking [in her post-match interview]. She's the perfect poster-child. A star is born."

And former British number one Annabel Croft added: "I think people expected a lot from her and she's had to cope with enormous amounts of pressure. It was unusual to hear her have a little bit of a pop back at people but I think it also showed there is steel there in her character, which is why she's become a great champion."

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                          𝓒𝓢𝓞𝓢 𝓜𝓸𝓭𝓮𝓻𝓪𝓽𝓸𝓻                       

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