Coco Gauff with the 2023 US Open women's singles trophy
Coco Gauff with the 2023 US Open women's singles trophy | (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

Tennis | US Open 2023 | Coco Gauff ‘burning so bright’ after winning maiden Grand Slam title

By Tony Fairbairn

  • Coco Gauff [6] def Aryna Sabalenka [2] 2-6 6-3 6-2
  • Coco Gauff insisted that the doubters made sure she is ‘burning so bright right now’ after winning her maiden Grand Slam title.
NEW YORK, USA – Coco Gauff is embracing being a Grand Slam champion after coming back from a set down to defeat Aryna Sabalenka to claim the US Open title.


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Coco Gauff [6] def Aryna Sabalenka [2] 2-6 6-3 6-2

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Coco Gauff is a Grand Slam champion after defeating Aryna Sabalenka to claim the US Open title. The American had to come from a set down as it was a nervy start from Gauff while Sabalenka used her experience to settle into the match quickly. Gauff was too passive and was too far behind the baseline with Sabalenka being ultra-aggressive and consistent to start the match.

After being broken in the opening game, Gauff responded well as she broke back in the fourth game with some good depth which troubled Sabalenka. However that was only a temporary blip in a flawless opening set from Sabalenka as she converted two of her next four break points to cruise to the opening set 6-2 in 40 minutes.

The Australian Open champion’s game plan was working perfectly as she made virtually no mistakes while Gauff was not able to gain control of the rallies. However that theme was about to change in the second set as the American started to problem solve her way through the match using different paces and lengths for Sabalenka to work with.

As the set went on, Sabalenka’s service jitters started to return with Gauff playing more aggressively, taking the ball earlier. The pressure from the American would pay off as in the fourth game, Sabalenka produced a costly double fault with the second seed conceding the break giving Gauff a 3-1 lead.

A break lead for the first time in a set didn’t seem to faze the American who played some gutsy shots to take a 4-1 lead. The power coming from Sabalenka had minimal effect on Gauff’s efficiency and speed from the back of the court as the Cincinnati champion forced Sabalenka into playing an extra shot. A comfortable next couple of service games saw Gauff close out the second set as this final would be going to a deciding set.

In the final set there only seemed to be one winner from this contest as Gauff’s confidence continued to show with Sabalenka looking fatigued and miserable. The American sealed two early breaks for a 4-0 lead as her footwork, precision and desire outlasting Sabalenka’s power. The Australian Open champion produced unforced error after unforced error as frustration continued to mount.

Before Arthur Ashe Stadium could celebrate, there was a temporarily blip as Gauff failed to keep her composure after a lengthy medical time-out as Sabalenka gained one of the breaks back narrowing the deficit to 4-2.

As they say though form is temporary, class is permanent as Gauff raced through the next two games and a backhand passing winner saw the American collapse to the floor in tears as her childhood dream was a reality, the 19 year-old was now a Grand Slam champion.



Gauff praised doubters after maiden Grand Slam title

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It’s Grand Slam glory for Gauff which means the American is the first teenager since Serena Williams in 1999 to win the US Open title. The journey has been a long one for Gauff in her bid to follow in the footsteps of her childhood idols as she now is a Grand Slam champion at 19 years of age.

Speaking after the match Gauff spoke about the influence the Williams sisters had on her career.

“[Venus and Serena Williams] are the reason why I have this trophy today, to be honest,” Gauff was quoted by the US Open website as saying.

“They have allowed me to believe in this dream. Growing up, there weren’t too many Black tennis players dominating the sport. It was literally, at that time when I was younger, it was just them that I can remember.

“Obviously more came because of their legacy. So it made the dream more believable. But all the things that they had to go through, they made it easier for someone like me to do this.”

The legacy that has been created by the Williams sisters has once again been evident with Gauff’s path to glory. At 19 years of age, Gauff is now a Grand Slam champion and the future looks bright for the American as she has broken through on the world’s biggest stage.

However the path hasn’t been easy as many expected her to break through over the last few years with expectation being placed on her shoulders ever since she made a deep run at Wimbledon at the age of 15.

That comes with many doubters and after the final, Gauff had a simple message for those who doubted her ability.

“Thank you for the people who didn’t believe in me,” Gauff told the WTA website.

“A month ago, I won a 500 title — people said I would stop at that. Two weeks ago, I won a Masters title, and people said that was as big as it was going to get. Three weeks later, I’m here with this trophy.

“To those who thought they were putting water on my fire, they were adding gas to it. Now I’m burning so bright right now.”


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Sabalenka remaining positive and motivated despite defeat

On the other side of the net it was bitter disappointment for Sabalenka who missed out on the chance to win her second Grand Slam title. After dominating the opening set, the second seed crumbled to the pressure with fatigue clearly playing a part in her drop in level.

Speaking after the match Sabalenka admitted the emotions got the better of her and aims to come back stronger.

“There’s some positive things I’m leaving [with], some not really positive, but it’s OK,” Sabalenka told the WTA website.

“It’s a process. We’re all learning. And I guess it’s a lesson for me I will learn and then come back stronger. In the first set I was dealing with my emotions quite good. I was focused on myself, not on the crowd or the way [Gauff] moves. … Then the second set I started probably overthinking, and because of that I started kind of losing my power.

“Sometimes I can get emotional. Today on the court, I was overthinking and I was missing quite, like, not easy balls, but the balls I shouldn’t be missing.

“[The] unforced errors was a lot in the second set, and that’s where I get her [to] believe that she can win this match. I got overemotional after the second set.”

A lot to reflect on for Sabalenka as she will look to bounce back and earn more Grand Slam success next season. However there is one positive thing for Sabalenka to take away from New York with her being the world number one on Monday.

Ahead of the end of the season, Sabalenka said she is still focused and motivated for the rest of the season as she aims to finish the year as world number one.

“Probably that’s why I’m not super depressed right now,” Sabalenka spoke about the world number one ranking to the WTA website.

“Becoming a World No.1, it’s a huge improvement, and achievement. I’m really proud of myself that all those years I have been working so hard helped me to become World No.1.

“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 still positive, and I’m still motivated.”



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