Coco Gauff rallies to beat Sabalenka and win US Open
Teenager Coco Gauff has surged back after losing the first set to beat Aryna Sabalenka and win her first grand slam title, taking the US Open title 2-6 6-3 6-2.
Coco Gauff's day of destiny arrived as she came from a set down to beat Aryna Sabalenka and win the US Open.
The 19-year-old became the first American teenager to triumph at Flushing Meadows since Serena Williams in 1999.
Williams' final farewell to tennis at the same championships last year left a colossal void in the sport in the United States.
So it felt only natural that Gauff, the heir apparent to the 23-time grand slam winner, stepped into her shoes 12 months later.
Sabalenka will be the new world No.1 on Monday after a remarkably consistent year in which she won the Australian Open and reached the semi-finals in Paris and at Wimbledon.
But that will be scant consolation for the 25-year-old from Belarus after she put herself in position to win her second grand slam title, only to fold as Gauff claimed her first, thrilling a raucous crowd with a memorable 2-6 6-3 6-2 victory.
"It means so much to me, I'm a little bit in shock," Gauff said.
"My French Open (final) loss was a heartbreak, and all the trials and tribulations make this moment all the sweeter... I just knew if I didn't give it my all I had no shot at winning. Aryna is an incredible player and deserves to be number one."
"Today was the first time I ever saw my dad cry. He thinks he's so hard but ... he took took me to this tournament when I was young to watch Serena and Venus (Williams) compete, so it's incredible to be on this stage.
"Thank you to the people who didn't believe in me. I'm here with this trophy now.
"Those who thought they were putting water on my fire, they were putting gas on it and I'm burning so bright now."
The pattern of the match was set out early: Sabalenka hitting the ball hard and Gauff chasing it.
Sabalenka's unforced error count kept Gauff interested in the early stages, but once she settled the Belarusian's firepower allowed her to race off with the opening set.
Gauff saved two break points after twice double-faulting at the start of the second but a similar error from Sabalenka, just after Gauff had the crowd inside Arthur Ashe on its feet with a stunning cross-court backhand winner, gave the sixth seed a way back into the match.
The US player broke twice at the start of the third before Sabalenka took a medical time-out at 4-1 down and immediately retrieved a break only for Gauff to hit straight back, almost taking the closed roof off Ashe.
A confident hold of serve later and she was the champion, the enormity of which hit Gauff almost immediately as she wept tears of joy before racing into the stands to celebrate with her ecstatic family.
"I felt the love through this couple of weeks," a tearful Sabalenka said.
"Coco played unbelievably and deserves the title."