The US Open women’s singles final is set: 19-year-old American Coco Gauff will play Aryna Sabalenka, the second seed from Belarus.
The championship match, scheduled for Saturday at 4pm ET, will be Gauff’s first appearance in a US Open final, making her the first American teenager to reach the final in New York since Serena Williams in 2001. Gauff has already played at the US Open. Grand Slam final in 2022, when she lost the French Open to Iga Swiatek.
The 25-year-old Sabalenka will also play in her first US Open final after reaching the semi-finals at the tournament in 2021 and 2022. Sabalenka has performed well at Grand Slams this year. She won the Australian Open in January for her first Grand Slam title, and reached the semifinals at the French Open and Wimbledon.
Here’s what to know about the match.
Their way to the final.
Before the semifinals, Sabalenka had cruised through the tournament, winning her first five matches without dropping a set. That streak ended in the semifinals on Thursday against Madison Keys, who took the first set from Sabalenka 6-0 in a quick 30 minutes. But Sabalenka fought back and won the next two sets in a tiebreak.
Gauff’s matches were not so simple. She played three full sets in the first round against Laura Siegmund, in the third round against Elise Mertens and in the fourth round against Caroline Wozniacki.
But since then, Gauff has racked up back-to-back straight-set victories. In the quarterfinals against Jelena Ostapenko she won 6-0, 6-2, in just over an hour. In the semi-finals, Gauff defeated Karolina Muchova 6-4, 7-5.
Goff leads head-on.
Sabalenka and Gauff have it They played against each other five timesGoff won three of those matches. The final will be the first time the two teams have faced each other in a Grand Slam tournament.
Sabalenka won her last match in straight sets in the quarterfinals of Indian Wells earlier this year. After her match on Thursday, Sabalenka said she didn’t think about that win because Gauff has improved since then.
Gauff reached the US Open this year after winning titles in Washington, D.C. and at the Western & Southern Open in Ohio.
“She’s a different player,” Sabalenka said. “Going into this final, I think I have to focus on myself and prepare myself for another battle. No matter what, just keep fighting and keep giving my best and doing my best.
There is a highlight on Gauff.
Since Gauff turned professional at the age of 14, she has been in the spotlight almost constantly and is often described as the heir apparent to Serena Williams. Gauff confirmed those descriptions for many when she reached her first Grand Slam singles final last year at the French Open when she was just 18 years old.
Now, as the last American woman to compete, the focus is once again on Gauff. Gauff said after her match on Thursday that she was avoiding social media to block people’s expectations of her.
“I’ve been really focusing on myself,” she said. “I really think I now have the maturity and ability to do it. No matter what happens on Saturday, I’m really proud of the way I’ve handled the last few weeks.
However, Gauff is seeking her first Grand Slam title, and after her win on Thursday, she said on the court that “the job is not over yet,” referring to basketball star Kobe Bryant, who died in a 2020 helicopter crash.
“That’s the mentality I have,” Goff said. “I’m trying to enjoy the moment, but I also know that I still have more work to do. Yes, the final is an amazing achievement, but it’s something I’m not satisfied with yet.
Sabalenka does not count.
After losing the first set of her semifinal match on Thursday without winning a match, Sabalenka found herself trailing 4-2 in the second set against Keys. But Sabalenka came back strongly and was forced to resort to a tiebreak in the second set and then again in the third.
“I’m really proud that I was able to turn this match around,” Sabalenka said.
Thursday night was not the first time Sabalenka made such a comeback. In last year’s tournament, Sabalenka lost 2-6, 1-5 in her second round match against Kaya Kanepi. The match was for Kanepi until Sabalenka resisted to win the second and then the third set.
Sabalenka said the best way to practice for a comeback is through tournaments, but even in practice, she would imagine losing 4-1 in one set.
World number one is waiting for you.
Even if Sabalenka loses the final on Saturday, she will become the new women’s world No. 1 on Monday when the WTA rankings are updated. Sabalenka secured the top spot after Swiatek, who had been the No. 1 player for 75 weeks, was eliminated from the US Open in the fourth round.
After her fourth-round match against Daria Kasatkina on Monday, Sabalenka said she wasn’t thinking about No. 1 yet.
“I don’t want to celebrate anything before the end of the US Open,” she said. “I just want to focus on this tournament more than the world No. 1.”
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