In the Mubadala Citi DC Open women’s final on Sunday, Coco Gauff secured her first WTA 500 title by defeating Maria Sakkari 6-2, 6-3 in Washington, D.C. The win marked her first tournament victory on U.S. soil as the US Open approaches.
Just over a month ago, Gauff experienced a disheartening first-round loss at Wimbledon, leaving her uncertain about the next step in her career. However, with her Citi Open victory, she has regained confidence and is now setting her sights on a successful campaign at the upcoming US Open, aiming for a deep run in the tournament.
“I’d like to thank my father God after this [victory],” Gauff told reporters. “After losing the first round of Wimbledon, it was a tough situation.”
In between tournaments, Gauff recently added former tennis pro and well-versed coach Brad Gilbert to her team. Gilbert, who has also served as an analyst for ESPN, also previously coached Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray. Agassi won six of his eight Grand Slams under his guidance, and Roddick won the 2003 US Open.
“It’s our first tournament as a full team. I’m glad that we were able to make this result. Thank you for sticking with me,” Gauff said during the trophy ceremony. “I know those who were with me at Wimbledon. It was really tough. I’m glad I was able to bounce back.”
Despite being only 19 years old, Gauff has also won eight doubles titles. She previously expressed wanting to be a role model to young Black women who aim to replicate her success in the sport.
Gauff’s victory at the tournament is historic, as she became the youngest champion ever. Her achievement marks the third time an American has won the event, following her doubles partner Jessica Pegula’s victory in 2019 and Sloane Stephens’ win in 2015. Gauff’s win also places her in an elite category as the first teenager since Caroline Wozniacki to claim four or more career titles.
Gauff defeated Hailey Baptiste in the opening round before defeating three seeded players: Belinda Bencic (sixth seed), defending champion Liudmila Samsonova, and Sakkari (ninth seed) in the final. Notably, her win over Sakkari marked her second Top 10 victory of the season.
“[Maria] is an incredible fighter,” said Gauff of her opponent after defeating her. “She’s one of the players that I look up to on tour, to be honest. She was one of the nicest people when I was first coming on, and the color of the conversation she had with me made it less scary. So thank you.”
Rick Macci’s endorsement of Gauff’s potential to win the US Open carries significant weight, given his esteemed reputation as one of the most renowned tennis coaches in the sport. With an impressive track record of coaching five players who reached the No. 1 ranking globally, including legends like Venus and Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Jennifer Capriati, and Roddick.
“Coco Gauff, at age 19, has supersonic makeup speed, a wicked slice serve, a laser down the line, backhand with juice, nice soft crispy volleys, a feathery drop shot, and most of all, a quickly maturing mind, and if she can stay authoritative on the forehand she has enough to win the US OPEN,” he tweeted.
His belief in Gauff’s abilities suggests that he sees something special in her game and her mental approach to the sport. Gauff’s solid performances and continuous growth as a player have likely caught the attention of seasoned tennis experts like Macci, increasing the faith in her possibly winning the US Open.
The 2023 US Open will take place from Aug. 28 to Sept. 10 in Flushing Meadows, Queens at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The player field for the men’s and women’s events will be revealed on Thursday, Aug. 24.