The U.S. Open women’s singles tournament is down to its last two players: Coco Gauff, a 19-year-old American, and Aryna Sabalenka, 25, of Belarus.
Both players find themselves competing in their first U.S. Open final. Gauff is the first American teenager to reach the final of the tournament since Serena Williams in 2001. For Sabalenka, who won this year’s Australian Open, reaching the U.S. Open final comes after she lost in the semifinal round in 2021 and 2022.
For both, this is the culmination of a generally successful season. After winning in Australia, Sabalenka reached the semifinals of the French Open and Wimbledon. Gauff reached the quarterfinals of the French Open, but then was knocked out of Wimbledon in the first round.
Gauff said that the early exit at Wimbledon spurred her to success later in the summer. Gauff won titles in August in Washington, D.C., and in Cincinnati.
Before the U.S. Open began, Gauff said that her mind-set had changed.
“Now I’m going in with a lot more confidence,” Gauff said. “I feel like no matter the score line in the match, I can be able to problem solve and troubleshoot my way out.”
Sabalenka is also confident in her ability to work her way out of problems in matches. She was close to elimination from the U.S. Open after losing the first set of her semifinal match against Madison Keys, 6-0. In the second set, Keys was up 4-2. But Sabalenka fought back to win in three sets.
Sabalenka won’t just face Gauff in Arthur Ashe on Saturday afternoon. She’ll also have to contend with a crowd that will be eager to see an American win the U.S. Open for the first time since 2017, when Sloane Stephens took the women’s title.
“Going into this final, I think I just have to focus on myself and prepare myself for another fight,” Sabalenka said after her semifinal victory. “No matter what, just keep fighting and keep playing my best and do my best.”