Emotional Coco Gauff storms back to beat Aryna Sabalenka and win 2023 US Open – latest reaction

Emotional Coco Gauff storms back to beat Aryna Sabalenka and win 2023 US Open – latest reaction

Coco Gauff won her first grand slam in New York – Reuters/Mike Segar

By Simon Briggs, in New York

Coco Gauff harnessed the loudest and most partisan crowd on the circuit to land her maiden grand-slam title, four years after her explosive debut at Wimbledon.

After a lamentable start, the match caught light in the second set and thrilled an all-star audience that included a quartet of major movie stars: Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Diane Keaton and Laura Dern.

The American fans did their utmost to lift their protege, and their exhortations began to pay dividends after an hour or so. Once a refreshed Gauff began to reel in Sabalenka’s early lead, each successful game drew such a full-throated response that the sound had an almost physical force.

While the first few exchanges might have been sketchy, Gauff grew into the match and displayed the virtues that have long marked her out as a legend in waiting, eventually securing a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 comeback win.

Follow latest reaction below

11:39 PM BST

Presidential seal of approval

11:37 PM BST

WTA stars react

11:35 PM BST

Tears for the champ

Coco Gauff storms back to beat Aryna Sabalenka and win the US Open

Coco Gauff celebrates – Reuters/Mike Segar

Coco Gauff storms back to beat Aryna Sabalenka and win the US Open

Coco Gauff reacts after defeating Aryna Sabalenka – AP/Frank Franklin II

11:32 PM BST

Your new US Open champion

11:32 PM BST

Coco on the phone

As we wait for the trophy presentation, Gauff sits in her chair and takes a phone call.

Who could she be talking to??

11:30 PM BST

Analysis from Molly McElwee

11:26 PM BST

Emotional scenes

A comeback victory for the ages. Gauff has done it. She collapses to the ground and breaks down in tears.

All the emotions pouring out. She meets her mum and dad and they share an embrace.

She then hugs her coach Brad Gilbert.

11:24 PM BST

Gauff 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 Sabalenka*

Gauff jogs to her side of the court as she prepares to win the biggest title of her career.

Sabalenka forehand long, her 14th unforced error of the set, 15-0. Sabalenka backhand into the net, 30-0. Sabalenka jumps into a backhand but gets it all wrong and ball goes wide. Three championship points.


11:21 PM BST

Gauff* 2-6, 6-3, 5-1 Sabalenka

More incredible defence by Gauff, absorbing the pace from Sabalenka, who eventually misses with a backhand, 15-30. Double fault Sabalenka, she can’t believe it but you can’t question technology. Two break points for Gauff.

Gauff gets the double break back. She hits a backhand down the line, Sabalenka’s reply is short and Gauff finishes with a forehand winner.

The 19-year-old will serve for the match next!

11:17 PM BST

Gauff 2-6, 6-3, 4-2 Sabalenka*

Sabalenka takes a medical time out for an issue with her left thigh. Cramp? A genuine injury? Delaying tactic? Things tend to hurt more when you are losing. Hopefully, she will be able to finish this match.

Gauff backhand into the tramlines, 15-30. Sabalenka forehand winner, two break points. These are her first in 54 minutes.

Gauff forehand into the tramlines and Sabalenka gets one of the breaks back.

Coco Gauff vs Aryna Sabalenka live: Score and latest US Open women's final updates

Aryna Sabalenka receives medical attention – Reuters/Mike Segar

11:09 PM BST

Gauff* 2-6, 6-3, 4-1 Sabalenka

Critically for Sabalenka she stops the bleeding by holding serve to 30 with a forehand winner. But she has called for the physio to visit her in the changeover.

11:05 PM BST

Gauff 2-6, 6-3, 4-0 Sabalenka*

What happens tonight, Sabalenka will become the new world No 1 but she’s not playing the best player in the world. She’s hit 38 unforced errors as this game gets under way.

But a forehand winner from Sabalenka makes it 0-30. Tentative high volley by Sabalenka and Gauff punishes her with a cross court backhand winner, 30-30.

Short return by Sabalenka and Gauff steps in to hit a backhand winner. And she holds for a 4-0 lead when Sabalenka hits makes another forehand error.

11:00 PM BST

Gauff* 2-6, 6-3, 3-0 Sabalenka

Gauff is winning the mental battle now and Sabalenka is crumbling. Sabalenka wants to hit her way out of trouble but it’s not working for her.

A wild forehand sails long and it’s unravelling for Sabalenka, 0-30. Sabalenka gets back to 30-30 but a forehand miscue gives Gauff a break point.

Sabalenka forehand long and Gauff gets the double break.

10:55 PM BST

Gauff 2-6, 6-3, 2-0 Sabalenka*

Plenty of twists and turns to come in this match. This will not be smooth sailing for either player.

Sabalenka looks at her support box in frustration after the ball drops in the tramlines after a forehand clipped the net, 30-15.

Gauff consolidates the break when Sabalenka’s forehand goes long.

10:52 PM BST

Third Set: Gauff* 2-6, 6-3, 1-0 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)

Once again Gauff gets an extra ball back in play and Sabalenka nets an overhead smash, 15-15. Sabalenka forehand into the net, 30-30.

Deep Gauff backhand and Sabalenka’s backhand reply is long, 30-40. More incredible defence by Gauff but this time Sabalenka holds her nerve and finishes with an overhead smash winner, deuce.

Great second serve by Sabalenka but Gauff hits an even better return and Sabalenka nets a forehand, second break point.

Gauff chases down a net cord and gets there, flicking the ball down the line, Sabalenka puts up a lob but Gauff puts it away with an overhead smash winner.

Gauff breaks!!

10:42 PM BST

Gauff 2-6, 6-3 Sabalenka*

Brilliant start to the game as Gauff changes direction and places a forehand winner down the line. Gauff mis-hits a forehand long, 15-15.

Body serve from Gauff ties up Sabalenka, who nets a forehand return, 30-15. Gauff takes control, pushes Sabalenka left and right and finishes with a forehand volley winner. Two set points.

Wild Sabalenka forehand long and Gauff takes the set. We go into a deciding set to decide who wins the US Open.

Arthur Ashe stadium erupts!

10:38 PM BST

Gauff* 2-6, 5-3 Sabalenka

This is the best Gauff has hither forehand today. She takes the fight to Sabalenka and pushes her back but the Belarusian finds a way to hold and put the pressure right back on Gauff, who serves next to win the set.

10:33 PM BST

Gauff 2-6, 5-2 Sabalenka*

Sabalenka continues to push and attack but her technique is all over the place and that’s why we are seeing so many errors from her.

Best service game of the match by Gauff as she holds to 15 and moves a game away from the set.

Coco Gauff vs Aryna Sabalenka live: Score and latest US Open women's final updates

Coco Gauff reacts during the final against Aryna Sabalenka – Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

10:30 PM BST

Gauff* 2-6, 4-2 Sabalenka

41 unforced errors between Gauff and Sabalenka compared to 15 winners is a clear indication of the low quality of this match. But it hasn’t lacked drama.

Short return by Gauff, Sabalenka steps in and nets a forehand, 30-30. Oh my goodness. Insane lob by Sabalenka over Gauff’s head from an improbable position, 40-30. Gauff forehand error and Sabalenka survives.

10:24 PM BST

Gauff 2-6, 4-1 Sabalenka*

Forehand errors are starting to flow from Sabalenka. It really has been an error-strewn match.

Gauff forehand long and Sabalenka gets a break back point, 30-40. Poor footwork on the forehand from Sabalenka and her shot goes wide, deuce.

Sabalenka forehand return long and Gauff gets the crucial service hold to consolidate.

10:18 PM BST

Gauff* 2-6, 3-1 Sabalenka

This hasn’t been a match of the highest quality but it’s engrossing and tension-filled. A sign of that tension is Sabalenka going long with a forehand, 30-30. Big point coming up.

Nice idea by Gauff with a drop shot but Sabalenka sprints up to it and hits a forehand which Gauff can’t get back into play with a volley.

The crowd gets on the feet as Gauff chases down a Sabalenka volley and flicks a backhand cross-court for a winner, deuce. Sabalenka pushes a forehand long, break point Gauff.

Sabalenka double fault and Gauff breaks!

10:11 PM BST

Gauff 2-6, 2-1 Sabalenka*

Gauff double faults on the opening point but hits back with three first serves which are unreturned to move to 40-15.

Sabalenka forehand return into the net and Gauff edges ahead again. A big ‘come on’ from the American. She is being forced to dig very deep here under relenting pressure.

10:08 PM BST

Gauff* 2-6, 1-1 Sabalenka

Sabalenka sends Gauff the wrong with a wrongfooting forehand winner, 15-30. Huge backhands from Sabalenka at Gauff’s forehand and the American breaks down, 40-15.

Sabalenka holds when Gauff’s forehand return goes wide.

10:04 PM BST

Second Set: Gauff 2-6, 1-0 Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)

Ominous start to this set by Sabalenka as she crunches a forehand return down the line for a winner, 0-30.

Double fault by Gauff, two break points. She saves the first when Sabalenka nets a forehand return. And then the second when she slices a forehand and Sabalenka flicks a backhand wide, deuce.

And she gets a much-needed hold when Sabalenka nets a forehand return. Can that be the catalyst to mount a comeback?

09:58 PM BST

Gauff* 2-6 Sabalenka

Ace from Sabalenka to move to 30-0. Two set points for Sabalenka. Gauff saves the first when Sabalenka nets a forehand, 40-30. Another forehand into the net from Gauff and Sabalenka takes the set.

Sabalenka has played this set on her terms. She dictated from the baseline, not allowed Gauff to have time and been super aggressive.

09:52 PM BST

Gauff 2-5 Sabalenka*

Gauff opens the game with a double fault but she hits back with a 111mph ace down the T. Forehand shank from Gauff drops just long, 15-30.

Another miscue from Gauff and it’s two more break points for Sabalenka. Gauff backhand into the net and Sabalenka breaks again and will serve for the set.

09:49 PM BST

Gauff* 2-4 Sabalenka

Gauff needs to find a way to weather this storm she is facing from Sabalenka. At the moment she can’t handle the depth and power coming from Sabalenka and is having to play on the defensive and wait for mistakes.

A forehand long from Sabalenka, 30-30. Good defensive skills from Gauff and Sabalenka flicks a forehand into the tramlines, break point. Sabalenka responds with a forehand winner, deuce.

More incredible ball retrieving skills from Gauff and Sabalenka sends her forehand long, break point. Sabalenka with a 116mph ace down the T. A great time for it!

What a point. Incredible speed from Gauff to stay in the rally, making Sabalenka play an extra ball but Sabalenka finally finishes with an overhead smash winner.

Gauff forehand return long and Sabalenka consolidates the break.

09:39 PM BST

Gauff 2-3 Sabalenka*

Forehand long from Gauff, 30-30. Big point coming up. Sabalenka goes at Gauff’s forehand with her return and Gauff nets, 30-40.

Break point saved by Gauff with a forehand winner. But she nets another forehand to give up a second break point.

Gauff makes Sabalenka play an extra ball and the Belarusian nets a bad overhead smash. More attacking tennis from Sabalenka and Gauff’s defensive backhand goes long, third break point.

Sabalenka breaks again after Gauff nets a forehand.

09:33 PM BST

Gauff* 2-2 Sabalenka

Forehand error then a double fault from Sabalenka opens the door for Gauff, 0-30. Sabalenka gets back on track with a forehand winner, 15-30. Second double fault by Sabalenka.

The crowd rallies behind Gauff as they sense the opportunity. Gauff squanders the first when her forehand return goes wide.

Sabalenka forehand into the net and Gauff breaks back. No reaction from the American but Spike Lee in the crowd is happy.

Coco Gauff vs Aryna Sabalenka live: Score and latest US Open women's final updates

Aryna Sabalenka in action during the final against Coco Gauff – Reuters/Mike Segar

09:28 PM BST

Gauff 1-2 Sabalenka*

Must win game for Gauff to stay in touch. She doesn’t want Sabalenka to run away with the match. If there is one glaring weakness for Gauff, it is her forehand but she hits her first winner off that wing to move to 40-15.

Sabalenka forehand into the net and Gauff holds. That should settle any nerves she has.

09:26 PM BST

Gauff* 0-2 Sabalenka

Gauff is yet to get going here. Definitely some early nerves whereas Sabalenka is more relaxed and playing her natural game – see ball, crush ball!

Sabalenka moves to 40-0 then hits her first double fault of the match. But she holds when Gauff’s forehand return drifts wide.

09:23 PM BST

First Set: Coco Gauff 0-1 Aryna Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)

Aggressive start from Sabalenka, who is already looking to dictate with her forehand. Forehand miscue from Gauff, 15-30. Sabalenka forehand into the tramlines, 30-30.

Forehand long from Gauff, break point Sabalenka. The crowd makes some noise to get behind Gauff.

Great hustle from Gauff, getting an extra ball back in play and Sabalenka nets a high backhand volley, deuce. Sabalenka forehand winner, second break point.

Gauff drops the ball short, Sabalenka steps in and crushes a cross-court backhand into the corner for a winner. Sabalenka breaks. Ominous start by the Belarusian.

09:13 PM BST

Here we go!

It’s showtime folks as the two players walk onto court.

Gauff is the first out and the ovation she gets is deafening. Sabalenka follows her and gives a wave to the crowd.

09:06 PM BST

Big name celebs in attendance

Emma Watson, Charlize Theron, Shaquille O’Neal, Alec Baldwin, Nicole Kidman and Maria Sharapova are among the names who will be watching history get made tonight.

Coco Gauff vs Aryna Sabalenka live: Score and latest US Open women's final updates

US actor Alec Baldwin (L) – Getty Images/Angela Weiss

Coco Gauff vs Aryna Sabalenka live: Score and latest US Open women's final updates

South African actress Charlize Theron (R) takes a selfie – Getty Images/Angela Weiss

09:02 PM BST

Roof to be closed on Arthur Ashe

Lightning and inclement weather means the roof will be closed for the final.

That probably suits Sabalenka more in my opinion.

08:53 PM BST

Road to the final for Gauff and Sabalenka

08:46 PM BST

How Gauff matches up to Serena Williams at the same age

With Gauff having the opportunity to emulate Williams with a first major title at the US Open final, Molly McElwee and Simon Briggs look at just how similar their teen journeys are.

Read more here.

08:39 PM BST

And she’s still just 19-years-old

08:32 PM BST

Head to head

Gauff leads the overall head-to-head against Sabalenka 3-2.

But lost their only meeting this year in the Indian Wells quarter-finals 6-4, 6-0.

08:18 PM BST

Gauff is the youngest American woman to reach the final since Serena Williams in 1999

Coco Gauff vs Aryna Sabalenka live: Score and latest US Open women's final updates

Serena Williams celebrates her win over Martina Hingis in the US Open final in 1999 – Getty Images/Jamie Squire

08:03 PM BST

Can Sabalenka win her second grand slam of the year?

Coco Gauff vs Aryna Sabalenka live: Score and latest US Open women's final updates

Aryna Sabalenka celebrates with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup – Getty Images/Manan Vatsyayana

07:50 PM BST

US Open betting offers and free bets

Take a look at these free bets and betting offers to use throughout the tournament.

07:35 PM BST

US Open women’s final

Hello and welcome to coverage of the US Open women’s final between Coco Gauff and Aryna Sabalenka.

The showdown on Arthur Ashe stadium has the makings of a classic as the home favourite takes on the new world No 1.

Gauff has delighted the American fans on her way to the second Saturday of the tournament and after winning her semi-final against Karolina Muchova she said plainly “job’s not done yet” and the 19-year-old says it was a reference to the late Kobe Bryant.

“He’s, like, has an incredible mentality,” she said. “One of the things is when he’s up and, you know, the finals, NBA Finals when they’re up in the count or 3-1, whatever lead they have, he doesn’t celebrate. He’d satisfy, give himself a pat on the back but time to move on.

“So that’s the mentality that I have. I’m trying to enjoy the moment but also knowing I still have more work to do. Yes, the final is an incredible achievement but it’s something that I’m not satisfied with yet.”

Sabalenka has had an exceptional grand slam season, with two semi-final appearances and two finals, one of which was victory at the Australian Open.

The Belarusian will start the match as the slight favourite but is full of respect for Gauff.

“She’s moving really well,” she said. “She’s hungry. She kind of like have nothing to lose. She knows that crowd going to support her. I think that’s what makes her really difficult opponent. Also serving really well.

“I think Australian Open final will definitely help me with all those emotions I went through in that final. I’ll be different in this final. I mean, I don’t know. It’s too late. I can’t speak, guys. Really, I’m like losing it after each word I’m saying.

“But definitely that final gonna help me, because I know which kind of, like, emotions expect. I know how to handle them. So I think that final gonna help me, like, emotionally gonna help me.”

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