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.
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SOURCE: The New York Times, Ben Rothenberg