Coco Gauff Gets First Grand Slam Title, Rallies Past Sabalenka For US Open Crown

by Staff | September 9th, 2023, 11:11 pm

Coco Gauff collected her first career Grand Slam title Saturday rallying from a set down to defeat Aryna Sabalenka 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 for the US Open title.

“I feel like I’m a little bit in shock in this moment,” Gauff said. “That French Open loss was a heartbreak for me, but I realize that God puts you through tribulations and trials, and that makes this moment even sweeter than I could’ve imagined.

“I just knew that if I didn’t give it my all, I had no shot at winning.”

Sabalenka came out ahead in the first set with her power, go-for-broke game, but in the second Gauff dug in and started get even more balls back.

Gauff’s defense paid off. The extra balls got Sabalenka out of her game and she began to miss. And miss more and more.

With the crowd fully behind the American teen, Sabalenka turned in an error machine and Gauff pulled away.

In the third, Gauff got a quick break and that was it. Sabalenka had no answers as Gauff tracked down just about every ball that was hit in the court.

Sabalenka finished with 46 unforced errors with 27 off the forehand. Gauff had just 13 winner and 19 unforced. But the idea is the win the title and that’s what Gauff did: make Sabalenka overhit.

“I knew she was going to go out there swinging, and I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to win this match the way I like to play,” Gauff said. “I don’t like to play the way that I played today. Running around the court, it’s fun, but, you it’s not as fun as hitting winners.

“I knew going into the match that was going to have to be the way I was going to have to play today against her.”

Gauff will move to a new career-high No. 3 ranking on Monday, and she returns to No. 1.

Under Brad Gilbert, Gauff finishes the North American hardcourt season 18-1 with three titles in D.C., Cincinnati and now the US Open.

At 19, Gauff is the youngest American to win the US Open since Serena Williams, 17, won in 1999. She’s also the first American to win a Slam since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open.

Sabalenka had dropped just one set en route and crushed Gauff at Indian Wells earlier in the year. And after the first set blowout, it looked like more pain was to come for Gauff.

“In first set I was dealing with my emotions quite good,” Sabalenka said afterwards. “I was focused on myself, not on the crowd or the way she move.

“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.”

Even with the loss, Sabalenka will get some consolation knowing she will be the new No. 1 on Monday and has a very good chance of finishing on top of the ranking for 2023.

“I’m definitely going for a drink tonight, if I’m allowed to say that,” said Sabalenka. “Yes, we are athletes, but sometimes we are drinking, but not much.

“Becoming a world No. 1, it’s a huge improvement and achievement,” she said. “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 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.”

Just 19 and currently the youngest Grand Slam champion on the planet, who knows what else is in store for Coco. It’s just the beginning.

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4 Comments for Coco Gauff Gets First Grand Slam Title, Rallies Past Sabalenka For US Open Crown

SG1 Says:

It seems like Coco Gauff has resolved her forehand issue almost overnight. The play of picking on Coco’s forehand no longer seems to work. Credit to her and her team for dramatically improving this part of her game.
And she is only going to get stronger and better so her future seems incredibly bright.

Going into 2023, Coco is on the rise, Sabalenka is No 1, Swiatek is a threat at every tournament. The player I am most interested in watching going forward is Karolina Muchova. Her athleticism and variety are absolutely next level. I believe she will make her mark in 2024 and her game is so complete that I expect her to hang around at the top for a while if injuries don’t derail her.

Buzzy Says:

As long as Sabalenka or another has a million unforced errors and, generally, gives her the match, Gauff will more slams. What an atrocious performance Sabalenka gave. A top high school player could have done better.

chrisford1 Says:

If any two people on tour EVER needed a sports psychologist I’d say it is the erratic Sabelenka and the ever under-achieving Tsitsiputz.

More than her playing at the USO, I was struck by what an intelligent, compelling personality and good interview and speech giver Coco Gauff is. Clearly, her agent and dad have ensured she was coached in media interactions from an early age. But they started with a naturally charismatic and smart kid.

In the other end of the spectrum on Sabelenka needing to be instructed in discipline and order and self control – I worry that Iga Swiatek is in a Stefi Graf sort of tennis bubble. No life but tennis, her meals, interactions, training all controlled. No time for girl things like makeup or lovers..
Anyone else have an opinion on Iga as a concern for arrested development? She’s 22!
I say this because I like Swiatek and she is a lot of fun to watch in matches and I hope I can see her play for many years to come. A plus for the WTA.

PK Says:

What goes forgotten in the Coco Gauff fairy tale is the role of Brad Gilbert, who was hired after Wimbledon to get her up to standards for the US Open after earlier disappointment.

So he steps in, gives her some pointers (probably helps clean up the forehand!), gives her pre-match strategies, and sends her out. How many times has Brad Gilbert pulled that rabbit out of his hat? How does he do it?

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