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Coco Gauff sinks Aryna Sabalenka to clinch US Open title

Coco Gauff sinks Aryna Sabalenka to clinch US Open title
© Reuters
American protege Coco Gauff wins her first Grand Slam title with a breathtaking three-set triumph over new world number one Aryna Sabalenka in the final of the US Open.

American protege Coco Gauff won her first Grand Slam title on home soil with a breathtaking three-set victory over new world number one Aryna Sabalenka in the final of the US Open.

The 19-year-old stormed back from a set down to prevail 2-6 6-3 6-2 in front of a raucous Arthur Ashe crowd, taking just over two hours to be crowned queen of New York.

Gauff's spectacular triumph saw her become the first female American teenager to win a major title in the Open Era since 2000, and only the fourth overall alongside Chris Evert, Serena Williams and Tracy Austin.

As was the case in her French Open semi-final, a succession of mistakes proved to be Sabalenka's downfall, as Gauff remained composed and was ruthless when it mattered most to spark joyous scenes in the USA and achieve Grand Slam supremacy at the second attempt, having fallen to Iga Swiatek at Roland Garros in 2022.

There was to be no repeat of Madison Keys's shock semi-final first-set bagel against Salabenka, as the second seed broke Gauff's serve in the opening game, firing a ferocious cross-court backhand beyond her teenage foe.

However, a disastrous second service game for the Belarusian - who posted two double faults in quick succession and smashed a forehand into the net - allowed Gauff to break back for 2-2, but the American immediately lost her serve once more in a frenetic start to proceedings.

Sabalenka ultimately backed up the break before a shanked Gauff shot saw the Australian Open winner extend her lead to 5-2, and despite missing one set point on serve, the big-hitting Belarusian was not to be denied a second time.

Coco Gauff reacts after winning the US Open on September 9, 2023© Reuters

Despite the unwavering support of the crowd, a dejected Gauff was not hitting enough winners to make up for a surfeit of mistakes, but the American drew first blood in the second set, getting the crowd off their feet with a wonderful cross-court backhand before Sabalenka fell 3-1 down on a double fault.

Gauff saved another break point to consolidate a 4-1 lead, and while Sabalenka forced the American to serve out the set, another long forehand from the second seed forced a winner-takes-all third set.

There was no immediate celebration from the 19-year-old as she raced off for an off-court break, which seemingly did her the world of good as a forehand smash saw her break Sabalenka's serve in the first game of the third set.

The newly-crowned world number one's capitulation was hard to watch, as more errors on the forehand side gifted Gauff a double break, and she was visibly working hard to keep her emotions in check as Gauff held for a 4-0 lead.

After belatedly getting on the board, Sabalenka called the physio out for treatment on an apparent thigh problem, and that time out did wonders for the Belarusian, who made things interesting by earning one break back.

That brief period of hope was quickly extinguished for Sabalenka, though, as Gauff broke once again with a venomous forehand before a sublime passing backhand winner cemented her status as a Grand Slam champion.

The 2004-born starlet immediately let emotion take over before embracing her family in the stands, as Sabalenka collected a Grand Slam runners-up prize for the first time in her career.

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