America’s Coco Gauff wins in Linz, youngest to win WTA title since 2004

America's Coco Gauff wins in Linz, youngest to win WTA title since 2004

American teenager Coco Gauff who is not yet 16 years old has won the WTA title in Linz Austria, beating 2017 French Open champion, 22-year-old Jelena Ostapenko in three sets.

Gauff, who only accidentally qualified for the tournament beat Latvian Ostapenko in three sets, 6-4 1-6 6-2 on Sunday.

As reported, the victory was a stunning conclusion to an already noteworthy week for Gauff, who went from losing in the final round of qualifying to entering the main draw as a lucky loser and claiming her first-ever Top 10 win over Kiki Bertens in her maiden WTA quarterfinal.

The young American went on to reach her first tour-level semifinal and final before her 99-minute win over Ostapenko gave her the trophy. Already guaranteed to make her Top 100 debut after her first couple of wins this week, Gauff is projected to rise inside the Top 75 in the WTA rankings on Monday.

15-year-old Gauff, who started the season ranked well outside the Top 600, becomes the youngest WTA singles titlist since Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic picked up titles at Vancouver and Tashkent by the age of 15 years, 5 months in 2004.

Gauff also becomes the second player in the last two seasons to claim a debut WTA singles title as a lucky loser, matching the feat of fellow teenager Olga Danilovic, who was a lucky loser when she hoisted the trophy at the Moscow River Cup last season.

Gauff took the early lead in the match after fending off two break points in her opening service game. The American notched a break for a 2-0 lead, using great depth of shot to draw errors from Ostapenko, and she consolidated by slamming an ace to reach 3-0.

Ostapenko began to find her range on her powerful groundstrokes, getting on the board for 3-1 after a wicked backhand down the line, but the Latvian could not garner any more break points in the set as Gauff served well and used dropshots with aplomb. The American teen reached set point at 5-3 with an ace, and she drew an error with a deep backhand slice to seal the opener.

However, the script was flipped in the second set. Ostapenko had to save a break point in the first game of that frame with an error-forcing forehand down the line, but after that, the 2017 Roland Garros champion began to find her targets with her rocket shots more frequently. She took advantage of a lapse by Gauff, breaking the American for the first time, at love, to lead 2-0.

Gauff pulled back on serve in the next game, but Ostapenko reclaimed her break advantage to lead 3-1 after a winning volley. Ostapenko maintained her dominance in the second set with aggressive play inside the margins, earning another break with multiple winners to lead 5-1. The Latvian converted her first set point in the next game with an ace, and the match was level.

The third set, though, swung back in Gauff’s favor, as she made it through the decider to claim a signature title.

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