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US Open women’s singles final: Tennis phenom Coco Gauff vies for 1st Grand Slam title

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(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Open women’s singles final is set to kick off Saturday afternoon, with 19-year-old American Coco Gauff playing against Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus.

The championship match, which is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. ET, marks the first appearance by both athletes in a U.S. Open final.

Gauff, the No. 6 seed, is the first American teenager to compete in the U.S. Open women’s final since then-19-year-old Serena Williams faced off against her older sister, Venus Williams, in 2001.

The Florida phenom is vying for her first Grand Slam tournament title. If she wins, Gauff will be the 10th teen to win the U.S. Open women’s singles championship — and the youngest American to claim the title since Serena Williams won in 1999 at the age of 17.

Gauff was also one of four Black American players — in addition to Frances Tiafoe, Madison Keys and Ben Shelton — to reach the quarterfinals of the Grand Slam tournament, the first time that has happened in the sport’s open era, which began in 1968.

She last played in a Grand Slam final in 2022, losing the French Open to Iga Swiatek. Last month, the teen won the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, becoming the youngest player to do so.

In an on-court interview after Thursday’s semifinal, Gauff said it means a lot to make it to the final.

“A lot to celebrate, but, you know, the job is not done,” Gauff said.

Sabalenka, 25, the No. 2 seed, reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open in 2021 and 2022. She won her first career major title in January, at the Australian Open.

Win or lose Saturday, Sabalenka will become the No. 1 women’s tennis player in the world when the Women’s Tennis Association’s rankings are updated next week.

Saturday’s champion will take home $3 million, while the runner-up will claim $1.5 million.

Gauff reached the championship after beating Karolina Muchova, of the Czech Republic, in two sets on Thursday. The match was delayed for nearly an hour after four spectators protested against climate change. Two of the protesters were arrested.

Sabalenka defeated American Madison Keys on Thursday in three sets — two of which were tiebreakers — to reach the final.

She said she expects Gauff, who has been a crowd favorite during the tournament, to get a lot of support from fans during the final.

“I’ll be fighting for every point,” Sabalenka said during an on-court interview after Thursday’s semifinal. “I’ll do my best.”

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