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Forbes
Forbes
9 Sep 2023


BNP Paribas Open - Day 10

INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 15: Coco Gauff of the United States and Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus ... [+] shake hands at the net after their quarter-final match on Day 10 of the 2023 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 15, 2023 in Indian Wells, California (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

Getty Images

The US Open final is set. Coco Gauff will face Aryna Sabalenka on Championship Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.

The 19-year-old Coco Gauff has become the youngest American player to reach the US Open final since Serena Williams in 1999 when she was 17.

In front of a supportive home crowd, Saturday’s final seems like the perfect opportunity for the South Florida prodigy Gauff to win her first Grand Slam title.

In what was a wacky night at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Coco Gauff, the star attraction of her home Grand Slam tournament and the new face of American Tennis, beat Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic with two sets to nil, 6-4 and 7-5, to reach her first US Open singles final.

An hour into the match, a protester in an "End Fossil Fuels" T-shirt glued his feet to the concrete floor of the stadium and stopped play for around 50 minutes. A difficult-to-handle situation, but luckily for Gauff, who might move to No. 3 if she wins the final, the night went her way as she was encouraged by a crowd that exploded for her from start to finish.

TENNIS: AUG 20 Western & Southern Open

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 20: Coco Gauff of the United States kisses the Rookwood Cup after defeating ... [+] Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4. In the final round at the Western & Southern Open at Lindner Family Tennis Center on August 20, 2023 in Mason, Ohio. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now, she finds herself in front of a golden opportunity to win on home soil and continue her recent impressive form. Ever since losing the 2022 Roland Garros final to Iga Swiatek, Tennis observers noticed how much Gauff’s mentality has evolved. Gauff speaks a lot about this too.

“So, I have just been really focusing on myself. I really believe that now I have the maturity and ability to do it. You know, regardless of what happens on Saturday, I'm really proud of how I have been handling the last few weeks,” she said in the interview post her semi-final victory.

Gauff’s recent performances might be worrying Sabalenka. Since her first-round loss at Wimbledon last June, the American has won 17 of her last 18 matches, going on an 11-match win streak. She won the two biggest titles of her career this summer, a WTA 500 trophy in Washington D.C., and a WTA 1000 in Cincinnati.

R1: Siegemund, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4

R2: Andreeva, 6-3, 6-2

R3: [32] Mertens, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0

R16: Wozniacki, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1

QF: [20] Ostapenko, 6-0, 6-2

SF: [10] Muchova, 6-4, 7-5

2023 Australian Open - Day 11

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 26: Aryna Sabalenka reacts in the Semifinal singles match against ... [+] Magda Linette of Poland during day 11 of the 2023 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 26, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

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Facing Gauff in the finals is the soon-to-be new world No. 1, Aryna Sabalenka who will be looking to win her second major tournament of the year. A complicated 2-1 win (6-0, 7-6, 7-10) against Madison Keys saw her reach the US Open final for the first time in her career after a devastating 2022 US Open semi-final loss against the eventual champion Iga Swiatek, despite a first set lead.

A year later, the Belarusian 25-year-old is a different player. And her record shows.

Since her exit in New York last September, Sabalenka opened 2023 with a first major career win at the Australian Open. She added the 1000-level title in Madrid, as well as reaching the finals at Indian Wells and Stuttgart.

By qualifying for the US Open semi-finals, she became the first player since Serena Williams in 2016 to reach the semifinals in the four Grand Slams in the same season.

R1: Zanevska, 6-3, 6-2

R2: Burrage, 6-3, 6-2

R3: Burel, 6-1, 6-1

R16: [13] Kasatkina 6-1, 6-3

QF: [23] Zheng Qinwen, 6-1 6-4

SF: [17] Keys, 0-6, 7-6(1), 7-6(5)

TENNIS-USA-OPEN

Belarus's Aryna Sabalenka reacts during the US Open tennis tournament women's singles semi-finals ... [+] match against USA's Madison Keys at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City, on September 7, 2023. (Photo by KENA BETANCUR / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images
US Open Tennis Championship 2023

NEW YORK, USA: September 7: Coco Gauff of the United States reacts as she sets up match point ... [+] during her victory against Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic in the Women's Singles Semi-Finals match on Arthur Ashe Stadium during the US Open Tennis Championship 2023 at the USTA National Tennis Centre on September 7th, 2023 in Flushing, Queens, New York City. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Corbis via Getty Images

Tournament: The 2023 US Open

Round: The Final

Date: Saturday, September 9

Venue: USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

Location: New York

Court Surface: Hard