Teenage player Coco Gauff defeated Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 1-6 6-2 in Linz Open on Sunday and became the youngest WTA title winner in 15 years.
With the victory, the Atlanta-born player also broke into the top-75 of the latest WTA rankings. In fact, Gauff turned out to be lucky when she still qualified for the main draw despite losing the qualifying final round.
“It has been an amazing week, I hope to come back here again. I will remember this moment for the rest of my life,” 15-year-old Gauff said.
The American has emulated Nicole Vaidisova, who was 15 when she won her maiden WTA title in Tashkent in 2004. Gauff first came into the limelight earlier this year when she defeated her compatriot and legendary Venus Williams in the opening round of Wimbledon.
In the first set of Linz Open final Sunday, Gauff held off two break points before she broke Ostapenko and sealed the set, 6-3. However, the 2017 Rolland Garros champion, Ostapenko, fought back in the second set. She broke Gauff thrice and leveled forced a decider set at 6-3, 1-6.
The American teenager rushed into the final set, breaking Ostapenko twice as Gauff led 5-0. Soon after that, Gauff suffered a setback as her opponent saved two match points, won a breakpoint to trail 2-5. That forced Gauff’s father and coach Corey Gauff to come onto the court for a quick chat with his daughter.
“Just relax, you’re not going to sprint to the finish line, you’re going to walk to the finish line. Trust your shots. Calm down, take your mind to another place, to a practice match. Just play, don’t think about negatives just think about positives. Yesterday if you know you had 5-2 you’d take that, you’re in control,” he told the teenager.
Those words of inspiration paid off as Gauff broke back to win the match 6-3 1-6 6-2.
Acknowledging the support from her family and friends, the WTA winner Gauff said, “Thank you so much to my family and team for their support, you are always with me every step of the way.”