The Arthur Ashe, packed from top to bottom, 24,000 people in the stands this Saturday with gray skies and heat in New York, vibrates at the moment in which Coco Gauff completes the comeback against Aryna Sabalenka (2-6, 6-3 and 6 -2) and reaches that place that was sensed when it broke out of its shell in London four years ago. Then, in 2019, the American showed her head on the grass of Wimbledon, where, while she was still a 15-year-old teenager, she was impressed by her precocity and where she came to tell the world that she had landed in tennis to do things. important. At the moment she is already a Grand Slam champion and her success is accompanied by a leap in the ranking –from sixth place to the podium– which at his age, 19, invites us to think that sooner rather than later he will be scanning the horizon from the top.
Already installed in the third place in the world, crowned at home, Gauff cries and history marks her as the third North American under 20 years of age to win the US Open, after Tracey Austin (1979 and 1981) and Serena Williams (1999). The scene has a high symbolic load. This was the place where the champion Serena raised her first major and also where he closed his career last year; It is the same framework in which Gauff shed tears in 2019 after losing in the third round against the Japanese Naomi Osaka, who consoled the creature as best she could; and it is also the place where, at eight years old, Coco danced in the chicken coop while her parents recorded the scene on video and she pointed to the track telling them: dad, mom, one day I will win here.
“Thanks also to those who never believed in me,” says the winner on September 10, which translates into a monumental party for the New York headquarters, where the local fan had not seen one of their own win since the fleeting appearance. of Sloane Stephens in 2017 and where three years earlier Williams’s last triumph was celebrated. Today, the latter is not there and Stephens has been lost in the nebula of the list; In the opposite direction, Gauff progresses stone by stone and step by step, tracing a practically perfect ladder this summer, 17 victories in the last 18 matches: she won the Washington tournament (WTA 500), she sent an even more forceful signal in Cincinnati (WTA 1000) and now captures the success that was denied her last year at Roland Garros, beaten that afternoon by Iga Swiatek.
It happens in New York, perhaps because the story had to be that way. And at the origin, Pere Riba from Barcelona played a decisive role, who a couple of months ago received a call from Gauff’s father and undertook a fascinating project. “Not all tennis players can play the same way, and Coco is finding her identity. She is growing a lot, but the margin of evolution of her is enormous, an outrage, ”he pointed out to this newspaper before the meeting with Sabalenka in the final, with a rather low profile (2h 06m) but exciting.
Between pioneers and figures
The 25-year-old Belarusian recedes towards that erratic version of constant attacks and short circuits before the most sensible proposal from the American, incandescent in defense and capable of overcoming the atmosphere of tension that is breathed. She charges the Minsk one over and over again, but Gauff repeats the plan that the Russian Daniil Medvedev executed the night before and in the same place to eliminate Carlos Alcaraz.
In the end, Sabalenka pays the toll of the 46 unforced errors reflected in her service record and clings to no small consolation, since this Monday she will wear the number one for the first time in relief of Swiatek. Winner in January in Australia and semi-finalist in Paris and London, her career makes her worthy of the outstanding award. Meanwhile, the American – born in Delray Beach, Florida – expresses her excitement and receives the trophy from Billie Jean King, the pioneer who paved the way for pay equity in the tournament half a century ago.
“Billie, thank you for fighting for this,” he thanks when he receives the $3 million check during the ceremony. Stars of the stature of Martina Navratilova, Monica Seles and Maria Sharapova watch it live. Committed, hard-working and charismatic, Gauff claims credentials to one day join the club of those who left their mark. She makes it in Queens, New York, it had to be here. Where else?
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Source: EL PAIS