Coco Gauff, 15, Wins Her First Singles Title

Coco Gauff put her hands on her face in disbelief, then pumped her arms in triumph on Sunday, celebrating the one thing her breakout season had been missing: a singles title.

Gauff, 15, won the Upper Austria Ladies Linz, an indoor WTA tournament, in the penultimate week of the tour’s regular season, beating the 2017 French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.

The title made Gauff the youngest WTA singles champion in 15 years, since Nicole Vaidisova won two WTA titles in 2004, also as a 15-year-old.

“I’ll definitely remember this moment for the rest of my life,” Gauff said on the court as she held her trophy.

After Ostapenko won the second set to even the match, Gauff raced out to a 5-0 lead in the third, then dropped two games, adding intrigue to the finish. With Ostapenko serving and down match point at 2-5, Gauff halted the rally with a shout of “Challenge!” after a deep Ostapenko forehand landed near the line. After several seconds of suspense, the Hawk-Eye review showed that Ostapenko’s shot had landed just long, awarding Gauff the victory.

Gauff celebrated briefly on court before joining her parents and coaches, who were jumping for joy courtside.

Gauff has one tournament remaining in her season: the Luxembourg Open, where she will play her first-round match on Tuesday against 66th-ranked Anna Blinkova. Still, the scene on Sunday in Linz, Austria, is likely to be remembered as the capstone of a year in which she soared more than 800 places up the rankings and had star-making runs: to the fourth round at Wimbledon and to the third round at the United States Open.

Because of an age eligibility rule, Gauff had not played on the tour since the U.S. Open, where her singles run ended with a lopsided defeat at the hands of top-seeded Naomi Osaka, who was praised for comforting her young opponent when the two met at the net.

Gauff had fortune on her side in this tournament. Ranked 110th, she lost in the second round of qualifying to 130th-ranked Tamara Korpatsch last week. But when Maria Sakkari withdrew because of a right wrist injury, Gauff was able to enter the main draw as a so-called lucky loser.

She made the most of her opportunity. In the quarterfinals, she beat top-seeded Kiki Bertens, 7-6 (1), 6-4, the first top-40 player she had ever defeated. Bertens, ranked eighth, was hoping to secure one of the eight spots in the WTA Finals, which begin this month in Shenzhen, China. None of the other players Gauff faced in Linz were ranked inside the top 60, but she still doubled her number of career victories against top-100 players to eight from four.

The title on Sunday also ensures she will be a top-100 player herself, which will give her direct entry to a Grand Slam event for the first time at the Australian Open in January.

Though the achievement is new, she is no stranger to winning, having won the French Open junior title last year. She also won her first WTA doubles title in August, partnering with her fellow teenager Caty McNally, 17, in Washington. With Sunday’s victory, Gauff became only the seventh player to have won both a singles and a doubles title on the tour this year.

Though often curt in defeat, Ostapenko took notice of the moment and her promising opponent during her trophy ceremony remarks.

“You have a very bright future,” she told Gauff, “and I’m really glad to share the court with you.”

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