Coco Gauff, 15, wins first WTA title, beating former French Open champ
American sensation began season ranked outside world’s top 600
American teenage sensation Coco Gauff became the youngest player to win a WTA title in 15 years as she beat former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the Linz Open final on Sunday in Austria.
The 15-year-old Gauff, who started the season ranked well outside the world's top 600, beat Latvia's Ostapenko 6-3 1-6 6-2 in a topsy-turvy contest.
She becomes the youngest WTA singles title holder since Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic claimed her maiden crown in Tashkent at the age of 15 in 2004.
Gauff raced to a 5-0 lead in the final set before Ostapenko rediscovered her rhythm to save two match points and hold on for 5-1.
It concludes a remarkable week for Gauff, who went from failing to win her qualifier to entering the main draw as a lucky loser.
This was definitely not on the calendar at the beginning of the year, because I didn't think I'd have a chance to get in.— U.S. tennis player Coco Gauff after winning the Linz Open at age 15
Gauff made her opportunity count by beating Stefanie Vogele, Kateryna Kozlova, top seed Kiki Bertens and Andrea Petkovic to reach the final.
"I'm still overwhelmed and shocked," Gauff told reporters. "I guess it's crazy to say it's my first WTA title.
"My dad told me when I got in, before the first main-draw match 'You can't lose twice in the same tournament!' I'm sure he never thought it would come this far, to being the champion, but I guess he was right."
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This week's run was the latest impressive performance for Gauff, who is now expected to rise inside the top 75 when the new WTA rankings are released Monday.
She was just 313th when Wimbledon began on July 1. That's where she really burst onto the scene as the youngest qualifier in tournament history, then beat five-time champion Venus Williams along the way to making it all the way to the fourth round.
Gauff claimed her first WTA doubles title at Washington in August, pairing with Caty McNally, before getting to the third round in singles at the U.S. Open.
She is now the youngest woman to win a WTA singles championship since Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic earned two by the age of 15 years, five months in 2004.
Ostapenko, who is 22, has been ranked as high as No. 5 and currently is No. 72. She has won two tour-level titles, the first coming at Roland Garros 2 1/2 years ago.