She was so quick, so consistent, so cool under all the pressure. Throughout her U.S. Open final match on Saturday,
American Coco Gauff withstood the screams and grunts and sizzling shots of her opponent, Aryna Sabalenka, this year’s Australian Open champion,
who is set to become the top-ranked women’s tennis player in the world. After a shaky first set, Gauff seemed to chase every Sabalenka effort down and send it back to her.
Gauff, somehow, stopped making mistakes. She played flawlessly. And Coco Gauff declared herself, without much debate, the future of American tennis.
Gauff, 19, defeated Sabalenka in three sets, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, to win the 2023 U.S. Open and become the youngest American major winner since Serena Williams won her first, the 1999 U.S. Open, at 17.
After she dropped the first set, Gauff took a bathroom break—"I was nervous," she said at a press conference after the match—put some water on her face, and told herself to reset.
The match turned in the second set, after Sabalenka double–faulted to give Gauff her first break of serve. Gauff went up 3-1, Gauff got sharper, and Sabalenka continued to pummel shots into the net.
At 5-3, a Gauff point at the net sent the crowd into hysterics; Sabalenka sent set point long, another unforced error for the Belarusian. Onto the third.
Gauff raised her game from the start of the decisive stanza. At her second break point of the first game,
Gauff got to everything, including a Sabalenka shot that hit the chord and bounced in front of the net.
After smashing a forehand winner to break Sabalenka’s serve, Gauff seemed to break Sabalenka’s will.