That’s all for tonight. Thanks for following along with us and be sure to read Tumaini Carayol’s full report off today’s final.
“Today was the first time I’ve ever seen my dad cry,” Gauff continues. “He doesn’t want me to tell you about that, but he got caught in 4K. He thinks he’s so hard. Thank you guys. You believed in me from the beginning. I’ve been coming to this tournament (for so long). My dad took me to this tournament sitting right there watching Venus and Serena compete, so it’s really incredible to be on this stage.”
After thanking her entire team, Gauff saves one last thank-you for the people who have doubted her.
“Honestly, thank you to the people who didn’t believe in me. A month ago I won a 500 title and people said I wouldn’t stop at that. Two weeks ago, I won a 1000 title and people were saying that was the biggest it was going to get. Three weeks later, I’m here with this trophy right now. I’ve tried my best to carry this with grace. Honestly, those who thought they were putting water on my fire, you were really adding gas to it, and now I’m really burning so bright right now.”
“It means so much to me,” Gauff says. “I feel like I’m a little bit in shock in this moment. I realize God puts you through tribulations and trials and that makes this moment even sweeter than I could imagine. I’m so grateful for this moment. I don’t have any words for it to be honest.”
Gauff is asked where she found the belief to turn today’s match around.
“I just knew that if I didn’t give it my all, then I would have no shot at winning,” she says. “Aryna is an incredible, incredible player. Congratulations on the No 1 ranking. It’s well-deserved. I always tell my team all the time that you’re a real nice person behind the scenes and the the competitiveness and that fire that you bring is what makes sports better.”
Sabalenka speaks first at the trophy ceremony. She takes the microphone to waves of applause, then says: “You guys could have supported like this during the match!”
The Belarusian reflects on her career-best season, which included her first grand slam title and culminates on Monday when she rises to No 1 in the world rankings. But she says that she’s most proud of how she’s been able to control her emotions and focus on the result and not the ranking.
She breaks down in tears near the end, apologizing for her parents to the result, but is sent off with more roars from the crowd.
A bawling Gauff collapses on the court after match point, then makes it to her feet to meet Sabalenka for a handshake near her chair. She shakes the chair umpire’s hand, still ugly-crying, then makes a direct line across the court to her player box as continuous applause cascades down from the upper reaches of Arthur Ashe Stadium. What a moment!
Third set: Gauff 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 Sabalenka
Sabalenka makes three unforced errors for love-40. Three championship points. But she only needs the one, closing the show in style with a backhand winner on the run to settle an 11-shot rally! Gauff has won her first US Open title!
Gauff breaks in seventh game of third set!
Third set: *Gauff 2-6, 6-3, 5-2 Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)
At 15-all, the players go toe to toe over a punishing 20-stroke baseline rally that’s settled when Sabalenka misses a backhand by millimeters, bringing the crowd to its feet again. Sabalenka then double-faults! Oh no! Two chances for Gauff to restore her double-break lead. And she converts on the first with a forehand volley winner at the net! Gauff will serve for her first grand slam title after the changeover!
Sabalenka breaks in sixth game of third set!
Third set: Gauff 2-6, 6-3, 4-2 Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)
Gauff spent most of Sabalenka’s MTO along the baseline firing serves in to keep loose. Now we’ve resumed play. Sabalenka wins the first point on Gauff’s serve with a crisp backhand. They trade unforced errors for 15-30, then Sabalenka rips a forehand winner on the approach for 15-40. She will have two chances to get one of the breaks back. But she needs only the first as Gauff goes wide on a forehand. Gauff still has the single-break lead.
Third set: *Gauff 2-6, 6-3, 4-1 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Sabalenka is on the board after a drama-free hold, which included back-to-back aces down the middle of 106mph and 111mph. But she’s taken a medical timeout during the change of ends. The physio appears to be working her left thigh.
Third set: Gauff 2-6, 6-3, 4-0 Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)
All of Arthur Ashe Stadium is on its feet after Gauff holds from love-30 down, closing it with a backhand passing winner, another backhand winner and a 102mph ace that Sabalenka can’t get back into play. Chants of “Let’s go Coco! Let’s go Coco!” ring down from the upper deck as Sabalenka walks to the line for her service game.
Gauff breaks in third game of third set!
Third set: *Gauff 2-6, 6-3, 3-0 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Gauff gets to love-30 on Sabalenka’s serve. Huge pop from the crowd. Sabalenka wins a couple of quick points for 30-all, but Sabalenka donates another unforced error at the end of a 12-shot exhangce for 30-40 and break point. And Gauff converts for a double-break lead in this deciding set after Sabalenka makes yet another error off the forehand!
Third set: Gauff 2-6, 6-3, 2-0 Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)
Gauff serving to consolidate the early break. Sabalenka wins a long rally with a forehand winner for love-15, but Gauff rattles off four quick ones from there to hold.
Gauff breaks in first game of third set!
Third set: *Gauff 2-6, 6-3, 1-0 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Sabalenka comes out firing, winning another long baseline rally with a forehand winner at the net. But Gauff wins three of the next four points for 30-40 and an early chance at a break point. Crowd is going wild. Sabalenka saves it with an overhand winner, but follows with an unforced error to give Gauff a second look at a break. And this time she converts it, smashing home an overhand after an eight-shot rally that covered almost every inch of the court! Sensational!
Second set: Gauff 2-6, 6-3 Sabalenka
Serving for the set, Gauff wins the first point with a forehand winner to settle a 13-shot baseline rally. Sabalenka gets it to 15-all with a forced error off a forehand. Gauff then takes the next point behind a 109mph serve, then wins a 15-shot rally with a forehand volley winner for a pair of set points. And Sabalenka blinks! Another unforced error, her 16th of the set, gives Gauff the second after 44 minutes!
Second set: *Gauff 2-6, 5-3 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Sabalenka gets through a drama-free hold of serve and Gauff will serve to force a third and deciding set.
Second set: Gauff 2-6, 4-3 Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)
Gauff opens with her fifth double fault, but Sabalenka answers with a biffed forehand for 15-all. That’s twice as many unforced errors for Sabalenka (14) than Gauff (seven) in this second set. Gauff wins a couple of quick points from there, then outlasts her foe in a nine-shot baseline rally to hold.
Second set: *Gauff 2-6, 4-2 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Sabalenka is pushed to 30-all on her serve after a couple of winners sandwiched by two more unforced errors. But she follows it with a sensational lob winner at the end of an 11-shot exchange for 40-30 – surely one of the points of the match – then escapes with the hold by hitting a forehand that Gauff can’t handle.
Second set: Gauff 2-6, 4-1 Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)
Gauff loses the first point on her serve by making an unforced forehand error at the end of a 16-shot baseline rally, the longest of the match so far. Sabalenka pushes it to 30-all, then wins the next point with a forehand and lets out a loud scream at the baseline. A break point for Sabalenka and chance to level this second set. But Sabalenka follow with her 23rd, 24th and 25th unforced errors (against 10 winners), all off the forehand side, to let Gauff off the hook.
Gauff breaks in fourth game of second set!
Second set: *Gauff 2-6, 3-1 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Gauff gets to 30-all on Sabalenka’s serve thanks to a couple of unforced errors by the Belarusian. But Sabalenka gets to game point, but Gauff responds with a highlight-reel backhand passing shot winner for deuce, punctuating it with a fist pump and a long shout as the crowd explodes. Another Sabalenka unforced error gives Gauff a break-point chance … and Sabalenka double-faults! The American has gone up a break of serve in this second serve. Now can she consolidate?
Second set: Gauff 2-6, 2-1 Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)
Gauff opens with her fourth double fault, sending the crowd into an uncomfortable hush. But the American follows with a 118mph unreturnable, 110mph unreturnable and a 109mph ace out wide for game point. Sabalenka wins the next point with a well-struck forehand, but Gauff crushes a 116mph serve down the middle that Sabalenka can’t handle to escape with the hold.
Second set: *Gauff 2-6, 1-1 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Sabalenka holds comfortably, ratting off four straight points from love-15. She’s won 11 of the last 14 points on her racket.
Second set: Gauff 2-6, 1-0 Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)
Immediate trouble for Gauff at the outset of the second set. She double-faults twice in the first four points while going love-30 and 15-40 down. Two break points for Sabalenka to take inside track to the finish line. Gauff saves the first behind a 103mph serve that her opponent can’t return and the second when Sabalenka errs off the backhand. Deuce. From there Gauff holds when Sabalenka can’t put either of two low-80s second serves into play. A desperately needed hold by Gauff all but gift-wrapped by Sabalenka.
First set: Gauff 2-6 Sabalenka
Serving for the first set, Sabalenka coolly rattles off a few quick points, including her second ace, to get to 40-15. Two set points. Gauff saves the first with a forehand that Sabalenka can’t return. But Sabalenka converts the second after Gauff makes her 10th unforced error of the afternoon and seventh off the forehand side. First set to Sabalenka after 44 minutes. An ominous stat for Gauff: the winner of the opening set has gone on to win 27 of the past 28 US Open women’s finals.
Sabalenka breaks in seventh game of first set!
First set: Gauff 2-5 Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)
Gauff double-faults for the first time but follows it with an ace for 15-all. But the American follows with consecutive errors off her forehand for 15-40 and a couple of break points. And Sabalenka needs only one of them, striking a hard backhand early in a baseline rally that Gauff can’t return. The Belarusian has opened a comfortable two-break lead and will serve for the opening set after the change of ends.
First set: *Gauff 2-4 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Sabalenka makes her 12th and 13th unforced errors (against four winners) while going behind love-15 then 30-40. Another break-point chance for Gauff and the crowd roars behind her in support, but Sabalenka saves it with a terrific forehand winner from the middle of the court. Gauff gets a second look at a break moments later, but Sabalenka saves with a 116mph ace down the middle. An extended rally breaks out on the next point with Sabalenka running Gauff ragged from corner to corner before finally putting away an overhand for game point. And the second seed is able to escape with the hold with a well-placed 101mph second serve that Gauff can’t handle.
Sabalenka breaks in fifth game of first set!
First set: Gauff 2-3 Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)
Gauff sprints to 30-love behind a pair of sharp first serves, but Sabalenka rattles off three quick points for 30-40 and a break-point chance. Gauff saves it with a forehand winner at the net for deuce, but Sabalenka immediately creates a second look at a break with a forehand to force an error on the next point. Sabalenka wastes that one, too, sending a simple volley into the net on the 11th shot of a rally. But Sabalenka wins the next two points on a couple of heavy baseline rallies to break for a second time and re-take the lead in this opening set.
Gauff breaks in fourth game of first set!
First set: *Gauff 2-2 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Sabalenka makes a sixth unforced error to open her second service game, then double-faults for a second time today for love-30. The pro-Gauff crowd buzzes for a long time before quieting for the next point. Sabalenka hits a winner early in the rally for 15-30, but then double-faults again! Two chances for Gauff to break and get back on level terms. Sabalenka saves the first behind a big first serve, but makes yet another unforced error at the net on the next to donate Gauff the break. Sabalenka has only hit four second serves in this match and she’s missed three of them.
First set: Gauff 1-2 Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)
Gauff holds comfortably to get on the board, her only blip a fourth unforced error at 30-love. She pounds her first winner of the afternoon off a forehand for 40-love then finishes it off after Sabalenka misfires on a forehand.
First set: *Gauff 0-2 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Sabalenka backs up the convincingly. She races to 40-love with string of quick points behind a first serve in the mid-110s, mixes in her first double fault, then follows with a 105mph serve out wide to Gauff’s forehand side that she can’t return.
Sabalenka breaks in first game of first set!
First set: Gauff 0-1 Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)
Gauff serves to open the match and Sabalenka wastes no time targeting the American’s forehand, her least favorite weapon. Gauff makes three unforced errors off the forehand side to go behind 30-40, creating a break-point chance for Sabalenka. But Gauff saves it by using her remarkable speed to chase down a ball into the corner and send it back over, where Sabalenka sends an overhand into the net. Sabalenka then stakes a second break point with a forehand winner and this time she converts it, painting the sideline with a muscular backhand then punctuating the early break with a fist pump and loud scream.
Gauff and Sabalenka have emerged from the tunnel to ear-splitting roars from a capacity crowd beneath the roof of the world’s biggest tennis stadium. They meet at the net for the coin toss. Gauff calls heads. It’s heads and she elects to serve.
They’re going through their warm-ups right now and we’ll be under way in the next three minutes.
Gauff, the sixth seed, is through to the final at her home grand slam for the first time, bettering her previous best result when she reached the quarter-finals last year. She’s the fifth American teenager to reach the final here after Serena Williams (1999 and 2001), Venus Williams (1997), Tracy Austin (1979 and 1981) and Pam Shriver (1978). It’s her fourth final of the season and she’s been a winner in each of the previous three, all on the hard surfaces of Cincinnati (the biggest trophy of her career), Washington FC and Auckland. She enters today’s final on a streak of 11 straight wins, the longest of her career, and a victory woud lift her to a career-high No 3 in the world rankings.
The second-seeded Sabalenka, who captured her first career major title at this year’s Australian Open, is also in the US Open final for the first time after semi-final setback to Iga Swiatek last year and Leylah Annie Fernandez the year before. This is her sixth final of the year following wins at Adelaide, Melbourne and Madrid with defeats at Indian Wells and Stuttgart. She will ascend to No 1 in the rankings on Monday regardless of today’s result, ending Swiatek’s 75-week run atop the table.
Hello and welcome to Arthur Ashe Stadium for today’s blockbuster women’s final between Coco Gauff and Aryna Sabalenka. It’s the fifth meeting between these two stars of the women’s tour on hard courts with their head-to-head record locked at two wins apiece, but none of those matches were bigger than today’s: a best-of-three-sets showdown for the season’s final grand slam title and $3m in prize money.
It’s another muggy day at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with temperatures of 82F (28C) and 68% humidity. The roof is closed with thunder in the area, though we haven’t seen a drop outside (yet).
The red carpet is out on the court for a whole slate of pre-match pomp. We should be under way in the next half hour or so.
Bryan will be here shortly. In the meantime here’s Tumaini Carayol’s look at Coco Gauff on the brink.
On Saturday, the teenager from Georgia will bring her new-found perspective to her biggest match on home soil. It will be brutally difficult. Not only is Aryna Sabalenka the toughest player in the world right now, the new No 1 when next week’s rankings are published, but it feels as if she may have exorcised her biggest demons during this tournament.
The race for the No 1 ranking seemed to weigh heavily on the Belarusian as she failed to take multiple opportunities to catch Iga Swiatek earlier this year. She particularly struggled to compose herself in major semi-finals. She was 1-5 in her career and had lost so many comprehensive leads until Thursday night’s incredible comeback win from 0-6, 3-5, 0-15 down against Madison Keys. For Gauff, who will be the underdog, the only thing there is to do is enjoy the challenge ahead.