American teenager Coco Gauff charged to her second career WTA singles title at the Emilia-Romagna Open on Saturday, dispatching Wang Qiang, 6-1, 6-3 in the final in Parma.
The No.3 seed Gauff needed just an hour and 14 minutes to turn back the challenge from the No.6 seed from China and add to her singles title collection, which she started as a lucky loser at 2019 Linz.
Gauff, 17, has excelled on the clay courts in Italy over the past fortnight, with a semifinal run at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia last week leading into a romp to the trophy this week. Gauff dropped only one set en route to her title in Parma.
“It definitely means a lot, especially on clay, which is not really a surface I feel like people associate with me,” Gauff told the press after she followed up her singles win with a second victory of the day in the doubles final.
“I always liked [clay], but I always fall on it, I always get dirty! I have good results on it, so it’s not about my performance. It’s just that clay shows you a little extra love than the other surfaces do.”
Gauff won over three-quarters of her first-service points and fended off each and every one of the four break points she faced in her first encounter with Wang.
“I think I did well in engaging every point and pushing [Wang] back,” Gauff said. “I know she normally likes to be aggressive. One of the main goals for me was just to be able to push her back and set up the shots I like to hit.”
Wang had a resurgent week in Parma, as the former World No.12 was just 4-11 on the year coming into the event. Wang broke through to her fifth career singles final — her first since 2018 — but was unable to win her third career title, and her first outside of her home country of China.
ALL EYES ON ✨COCO✨
— wta (@WTA) May 22, 2021
Gauff excelled from the backhand side as she surged to an early 3-0 lead in the encounter. Wang charged back from 0-30 down in the next game to hold her serve, but that would be it for the Chinese player in the opener, as Gauff regularly came out on top in increasingly lengthy rallies.
Serving for the set at 5-1, Gauff found herself down double break point after two consecutive double faults, but the American powered her way out of that jam with superb groundstrokes. She then fended off a third break point in that game before coming up with a service winner to obtain the one-set lead.
A backhand winner down the line allowed Gauff to save a break point and hold for 2-2 in the second set, and the teenager took charge after that close call, breaking for 3-2. Nevertheless, Wang’s groundstrokes were more accurate and hefty in the second set as she kept it closer than the first.
Still, it was Gauff who went untested on serve from that point forward, as she used an array of groundstroke winners to slide to a 5-3 lead. Another beautiful backhand forced an error from Wang to end the match, and Gauff ended the day with 21 winners to Wang’s 11.
Gauff made it a clean sweep of the titles in Parma, as she paired with Caty McNally to win the doubles championship later in the day. The 4th-seeded team defeated No.2 seeds Darija Jurak and Andreja Klepac, 6-3, 6-2 to win the final.
“I feel like all week I just was thinking about it,” Gauff said. “Especially when we got to the semifinals, you’re thinking about it, like, ‘It would be pretty cool to win both the singles and doubles titles.’ Happy that I was able to do that today.”
At 17 years, 70 days old, Gauff is the youngest player to sweep the singles and doubles titles at an event since Maria Sharapova won both titles at 2004 Birmingham, at 17 years, 55 days old. Sharapova completed the sweep 92 days after Gauff was born.
Gauff and McNally improved to 3-0 in doubles titles as a team, adding to their 2019 titles in Washington D.C. and Luxembourg. McNally also has a fourth doubles title, which she won with Hailey Baptiste earlier this season at the MUSC Health Women’s Open in Charleston.
The Americans broke Jurak and Klepac six times en route to the 66-minute victory in the Italian evening, helped along by winning 62 percent of return points during the clash.
|ITF name||Cori Gauff|
|Country (sports)||United States|
|Born||March 13, 2004
Delray Beach, Florida, U.S.
|Height||1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|Plays||Right-handed (two-handed backhand)|
|Career record||61–33 (64.9%)|
|Highest ranking||No. 30 (May 17, 2021)|
|Current ranking||No. 30 (May 17, 2021)|
|Grand Slam Singles results|
|Australian Open||4R (2020)|
|French Open||2R (2020)|
|US Open||3R (2019)|
|Career record||41–22 (65.1%)|
|Highest ranking||No. 42 (February 3, 2020)|
|Current ranking||No. 47 (April 5, 2021)|
|Grand Slam Doubles results|
|Australian Open||QF (2020, 2021)|
|French Open||3R (2020)|
|US Open||3R (2019)|
|Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results|
|US Open||2R (2018)|
|Last updated on: April 5, 2021.|
Cori “Coco” Gauff (born March 13, 2004) is an American tennis player. She is the youngest player ranked in the top 100 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and has a career-high ranking of world No. 30 in singles, and No. 42 in doubles. Gauff won her first WTA singles title at the 2019 Linz Open at the age of 15, making her the youngest singles title-holder on the WTA Tour since 2004. She also has won three WTA doubles titles with compatriot and fellow teenager Caty McNally. Gauff rose to prominence with an upset win over Venus Williams in the opening round at Wimbledon in 2019.
Born to athletic parents with NCAA Division I collegiate backgrounds in basketball and track and field, Gauff experimented with a variety of sports as a child. She chose to focus on tennis, having been inspired to play by the Williams sisters and because of her preference to compete in an individual sport. Gauff had quick success as a junior, earning a sponsorship to train at Patrick Mouratoglou‘s academy in France. She began playing on the ITF Junior Circuit at 13 and finished runner-up at the junior 2017 US Open in just her fourth ITF event, making her the youngest finalist in the tournament’s history. She became the No. 1 junior in the world after winning the junior Grand Slam singles title over McNally at the 2018 French Open. She also won a junior Grand Slam doubles title at the 2018 US Open, this time partnering with McNally.
Gauff made her WTA Tour debut in March 2019 at the Miami Open and won her opening match. She received a wild card into the qualifying draw at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships where she became the youngest player in the tournament’s history to qualify for the main draw. She reached the fourth round of the event, and each of her matches was the most-watched of the day in the United States. Gauff would later reach the third round of the 2019 US Open, and the fourth round of the 2020 Australian Open.