Fifteen-year-old Coco Gauff made the most of her lucky loser entrance at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz, getting past Grand Slam champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 1-6 6-2 in the final to lift the first WTA trophy of her very young career.
Playing just the sixth tournament on the pro circuit, Gauff wrote a lot of firsts in her biography this week at the International-level tournament in Linz — the American recorded her first Top 10 victory (knocked out top seed Kiki Bertens ranked No.8 in the world), played her first WTA quarterfinals, semifinals, finals and eventually won her maiden WTA title.
The world No.110 Gauff, who will now be ranked No.71, opened the final with a 3-0 lead and firmly held on to it until the end of the set, as the 2017 French Open champion Ostapenko looked nervous and lacked concentration.
Gauff didn’t win a single point on her first serve in the second set, although her first serve percentage was good (71%), and she won just two points on her second serve. Now coached by 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, who watched the match alongside her boyfriend Yahya Boumediene, Ostapenko raced through the set that did feature three straight breaks of serve from 2-0 to 3-1.
The loss of the second set didn’t faze Gauff, as the youngster stayed calm and collected, which translated into a massive 5-0 lead in the decider. Ostapenko didn’t let the match go so easily, winning two straight games, but the mini comeback never intimidated Gauff and the American finished the perfect week with a brave decision — on match point, she stopped play, challenged a ball in the middle of the rally and was right, as Hawk-Eye proved that Ostapenko’s shot went long.
During her miracle week in Linz, Gauff was wearing the New Balance Fall Rally Court Tank, Core Rally Skirt and New Balance WC 996v3 tennis shoes.
Gauff was also very successful in Linz doubles — she and Catherine McNally reached the semifinals where they lost to wildcards Barbara Haas of Austria and Xenia Knoll of Switzerland.