Coco Gauff shined on the big stage as the home crowd favorite on Saturday.
The teenage star took down 25-year-old Aryna Sabalenka 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the U.S. Open final to win her first-ever Grand Slam singles title. She also became the first American to win the tournament since Sloane Stephens in 2017.
“Thank you to the people who didn’t believe in me," Gauff said after the win. "A month ago, I won a 500 title, people said I would stop at that. Two weeks ago I won a Masters title, and people said that was as big as it was going to get. Three weeks later I’m here with this trophy right now.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Boston sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
"To those who thought they were putting water in my fire, they were adding gas to it. Now I’m burning so bright."
In the first set, Sabalenka rushed out to a 2-0 start. She was fully dictating play, leaving the teenager scrambling around the court. Gauff was able to grind through points, creating unforced errors from the very powerful and flat-hitting to narrow the lead 3-2. Shortly after, Sabalenka was able to cut out the errors and dictate play to close out the set 6-2.
In the second set, Gauff had a changed mindset. She brought back that confidence and started to get play on her own terms. She dictated points to keep a lead the entire set from 1-0 to 3-1 and 5-2. She closed out the set 6-3 with a service hold.
In the third and final set, Gauff kept her foot on the peddle for two early breaks to run out with a 3-0 lead. Again, the teenager was dictating play while Sabalenka continued to contribute multiple unforced errors. At 4-1, the Belarusian received a medical timeout to have her leg worked on. Although Gauff dropped the next game, she regained her focus to close out the set and match 6-2.
Before the win, Gauff's best Grand Slam result was reaching the final of the 2022 French Open where she fell to Iga Swiatek. The 19-year-old had also dominated in some of the American swing events before the U.S. Open, winning both Washington D.C. and Cincinnati.
Sabalenka, who will be the new women's world No. 1 on Monday, also had quite a successful 2023. She won the Australian Open in January and made the semifinals of both the French Open and Wimbledon.
Sabalenka secured the top-ranking spot following Swiatek's Round of 16 loss at the U.S. Open. The Pole had spent 75 consecutive weeks in the No. 1 spot.