Coco Gauff’s fairy tale run at the US Open came to an end on Saturday, as she lost to world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2. The 19-year-old American was hoping to become the first teenager to win the US Open since Serena Williams in 1999, and the youngest Grand Slam champion since Martina Hingis in 1997. However, she was overpowered by Sabalenka, who claimed her second major title after winning the Australian Open earlier this year.
Gauff, who had not dropped a set in her previous six matches, started nervously and was broken in the first game. She managed to break back and level at 2-2, but Sabalenka regained her composure and broke again for a 4-2 lead. The Belarusian held her serve and then broke Gauff once more to take the first set in 32 minutes.
The second set was more one-sided, as Sabalenka dominated with her powerful serve and groundstrokes. She broke Gauff twice and raced to a 5-0 lead, before Gauff finally held her serve to avoid a bagel. Sabalenka then served out the match with ease, sealing the victory with an ace after 67 minutes of play.
Sabalenka praises Gauff’s performance and potential
Sabalenka was gracious in victory, as she hugged Gauff at the net and praised her performance and potential. “She’s an amazing player and a great person,” Sabalenka said in her on-court interview. “She has a bright future ahead of her. I’m sure she will win many Grand Slams in the future.”
Sabalenka also thanked the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium for their support, even though they were mostly cheering for Gauff. “I know you guys wanted Coco to win today, but thank you for your support anyway,” Sabalenka said. “It means a lot to me. This is an amazing feeling to win here in New York.”
Sabalenka became the first player from Belarus to win the US Open, and the second to win a Grand Slam after Victoria Azarenka. She also became the first player to win two majors in a single season since Angelique Kerber in 2016.
Gauff reflects on her breakthrough tournament and vows to come back stronger
Gauff, who received a standing ovation from the crowd, was emotional but composed in her post-match speech. She congratulated Sabalenka on her victory and thanked her team, family, and fans for their support. “It’s been an incredible two weeks for me,” Gauff said. “I’m really proud of myself for how I handled everything. I learned a lot from this tournament and from Aryna today.”
Gauff also expressed her gratitude to the US Open organizers and staff for putting on a safe and successful event amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “I want to say thank you to everyone who made this possible,” Gauff said. “It’s been a tough year for everyone, but I’m glad we were able to play in front of you guys. You guys are the best fans in the world.”
Gauff, who rose to No. 12 in the world rankings after reaching her first Grand Slam final, said she was not satisfied with her result and vowed to come back stronger next year. “I’m not going to lie, I’m disappointed that I couldn’t win today,” Gauff said. “But I’m also very happy with how I played this tournament. I know I have a lot of room for improvement, and I’m going to work hard to get better. I’ll see you guys next year.”