Coco Gauff is determined not to be labeled as a ‘one-slam wonder’ and aims to capitalize on her success at the US Open. The American teenager, following her triumph over Belarus’ second seed Aryna Sabalenka in the Flushing Meadows final on Saturday, expressed a newfound sense of perspective. Gauff had garnered high expectations after her remarkable performance in last year’s home Slam, and now she is focused on building a sustained and successful career in tennis.
But those outsized expectations did not make her job any easier, especially when former world No 1 Serena Williams pushed her to the brink. Despite the struggles and the many doubters, Gauff forged ahead and became the youngest American to win a Grand Slam title since Williams in 1999.
Now, she is preparing for the first Australian Open of 2024 in Melbourne, and Gauff is eager to build on the momentum from New York. She began the week by defending her Auckland warm-up title and defeated Ukrainian seventh seed Elina Svitolina 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-3. The American made the early break in a first set that lurched back and forth, then held on against a fightback from the world No 3.
In the third and final set, Gauff took a medical timeout while her leg was massaged, but she remained sharp while regaining her focus. She broke Sabalenka twice and served out the match in style to clinch her ninth WTA title. Gauff celebrated by running to her parents in the stands at Arthur Ashe Stadium, and both were in tears.
Gauff, who has also won two tournaments this season, will play Romanian veteran Sorana Cirstea in the first round of the Melbourne tournament on Tuesday. She has been in good form this season, and she said she is looking forward to playing in the same stadium as her idol, Simona Halep.
She also relishes facing a player ranked outside the top 100 for the first time in her career. Gauff has a win-loss record of 18-1 so far in her hard-court season, defeating the likes of former world No. 1 Simona Halep and 2023 French Open runner-up Karolina Muchova.
Gauff will take to the court in Melbourne for her first match as a Grand Slam champion, and she is looking to get off to a strong start against Cirstea. In their previous meeting, the 19-year-old will be looking to improve the scoreline against the Romanian, which ended in a 6-4 6-2 loss in New York.