For the first time in her life, including juniors, Coco Gauff entered a tournament as a lucky loser, then she made her first WTA quarterfinals, followed by her first semis, and now the 15-year-old is through to her first WTA final at the Upper Austria Ladies Open.
The world No.110 Gauff thought she was out of the tournament in qualifying, when she failed to make the main draw by losing to Tamara Korpatsch, but a lucky loser entrance gave her the second life and the American teenager kept dispatching opponents, from Stephanie Voegele and Kateryna Kozlova, to top seed Kiki Bertens and former world No.9 Andrea Petkovic.
Playing only her sixth tournament on the WTA calendar, Gauff became the youngest female to reach a final since Czech Nicole Vaidisova in 2004. The girl from Florida saved nine out of the ten break points she faced against Petkovic in Saturday’s semis, before she sealed a 6-4 6-4 victory on her second match point, finishing the encounter with a solid 71 winning percentage behind her second serve.
“This is crazy, I thought I was out of the tournament in qualifying,” said Gauff, whose strength today were drop shots, normally not her most comfortable game plan.
In Sunday’s title match, Gauff’s opponent will be 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko, Latvian player currently ranked No.72 in singles, who reached her first final of the season after saving three match points to overcome last year’s Linz runner-up Ekaterina Alexandrova 1-6 7-6(5) 7-5.