US Open Women’s Singles Final: 19-year-old American Coco Gough takes on No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
The championship match, scheduled for Saturday at 4 p.m. Eastern, will be Goff’s first appearance in a US Open final and the first American teenager to reach the final in New York since Serena Williams in 2001. Goff has already played in one tournament. In a Grand Slam final in 2022, he lost the French Open to Ika Svidek.
The 25-year-old Sabalenka is playing in the US Open final for the first time since reaching the semi-finals of the tournament in 2021 and 2022. Sabalenka has been in good form at the Grand Slams this year. She won the Australian Open in January for her first Grand Slam title, and she reached the semifinals of the French Open and Wimbledon.
Here’s what you need to know about the competition.
Their paths to the finals.
Before the semifinals, Sabalenka cruised through the tournament, winning his first five matches without dropping a set. That streak ended in Thursday’s semifinal against Madison Keys, who took the first set from Sabalenka 6-0 in a quick 30 minutes. But Sabalenka fought back and won the next two sets in tiebreakers.
Goff’s matches are not so straightforward. She played three complete sets against Laura Siegemond in the first round, Elise Mertens in the third round and Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round.
But since then, Goff has won back-to-back straight sets. In the quarterfinals against Jelena Ostapenko, she won 6-0, 6-2 in just over an hour. In the semifinals, Goff beat Karolina Muchova 6-4, 7-5.
Gaff leads from head to head.
Sabalenka and Gauff should Played against each other five times, and Gauff has won three of those contests. This will be the first time the duo will play in a Grand Slam final.
Sabalenka won their most recent match in straight sets in the Indian Wells quarter-finals earlier this year. After his match on Thursday, Sabalenka said he wasn’t thinking about that win because Goff had improved from it.
Goff comes into this year’s US Open after back-to-back titles at the Western & Southern Open in Washington, DC and Ohio.
“It’s a different player,” Sabalenka said. “Going into this final, I think I have to focus on myself and prepare myself for another fight. No matter what, keep fighting and play the best I can.
A spotlight is on Gaff.
Since Goff turned pro at age 14, she has attracted a steady stream of attention and is often described as the heir apparent to Serena Williams. Goff confirmed those explanations for many when she reached her first Grand Slam singles final at the age of 18 at the French Open last year.
Now, as the last American woman standing in the competition, the focus is back on Gaff. After his match on Thursday, Goff said people were avoiding social media to curb expectations of him.
“I really focus on myself,” he said. “I believe I have the maturity and ability to do it now. Regardless of what happens on Saturday, I’m very proud of how I’ve handled the last few weeks.
However, Goff, who is seeking his first Grand Slam tournament title, told the court after winning Thursday that “the work is not done yet,” a reference to basketball star Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in 2020.
“That’s the mindset I have,” Gough said. “I’m trying to enjoy the moment, but I know I still have a lot of work to do. Yes, the final is an incredible achievement, but it’s not something I’m satisfied with yet.
Don’t count out Sabalenka.
After dropping the first set of her semifinal match on Thursday without winning a game, Sabalenka found herself 4-2 down in the second set against Keys. But Sabalenka looked to claw her way back, forcing a tiebreaker in the second set and then again in the third.
“I’m very proud that I was able to change this tournament,” Sabalenka said.
Thursday night wasn’t the first time Sabalenka pulled off such a comeback. In last year’s tournament, Sabalenka lost – 2-6, 1-5 – in the second round to Kaia Kanebi. The match was a losing battle for Kanebi until Sabalenka fought back to take the second set and then the third.
Sabalenka said the best way to bounce back is in matches, but even in practice, she would visualize being down 4-1 in a set.
World No. 1 awaits.
Although Sabalenka lost Saturday’s final, she will be the new women’s world No. 1 on Monday when the WTA rankings are updated. Sviatek, who has reigned as No. 1 for 75 weeks, is certain to take the top spot after a fourth-round exit from the US Open.
After her fourth-round match against Daria Kasatkina on Monday, Sabalenka said she was not thinking about the No. 1 ranking just yet.
“I don’t want to celebrate anything until the US Open is over,” he said. “I’d rather focus on this match than the world No. 1.”