American teenager Coco Gauff mounted a fierce comeback to beat Belarusian second seed Aryna Sabalenka 2-6 6-3 6-2 in the U.S. Open women’s final on Saturday and claim her first Grand Slam title in front of adoring home fans.
With the win, sixth seed Gauff became the first American to win a U.S. Open singles title since Sloane Stephens in 2017.
Gauff, 19, fed off noisy local support as she mounted a terrific second set fight back and kept the momentum going until the end of the battle before falling to the court on Arthur Ashe Stadium as she clinched the title with a backhand winner.
Sabalenka had a superb start but could not keep the momentum going as unforced errors piled up and she closed her 2023 Grand Slam run, which included an Australian Open title and semi-finals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, on a disappointing note.
“I feel like I am a little bit in shock in this moment,” said Gauff, who lost in her only previous major final appearance last year at Roland Garros.
“You know that French Open loss (in last year’s final) was heartbreak for me but I realized that God puts you through tribulations and trials and this makes this moment even more sweeter than I can imagine.”
There were early signs of nervousness from both players, as Gauff made a pair of unforced errors to help Sabalenka to a break in the opening game and the Belarusian dropped serve in the fourth game with two double faults and an unforced error.
The crowd urged on Gauff, the first American teenager to reach the U.S. Open singles final since Serena Williams in 2001.
But Sabalenka blocked out the noise and used her mighty forehand to convert on a break point chance in the fifth game.