Sixth seed Gauff became the first American to win a US Open singles championship since Sloane Stephens in 2017 with the victory on Saturday.
Gauff, 19, benefited from the enthusiastic home fans as she staged a remarkable comeback in the second set. She maintained the momentum all the way to the finish of the match before collapsing to the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium after capturing the championship with a backhand winner.
Sabalenka had a superb start but could not keep the momentum going as unforced errors piled up and she closed her 2023 Grand Slam run, which included an Australian Open title and semifinals at Roland Garros as well as Wimbledon, on a disappointing note.
Gauff, who is from Florida, is the first American teenager to win the country’s major tennis tournament since Serena Williams in 1999.
This is the sort of triumph that had fairly or not been expected of Gauff ever since she burst onto the scene at 15 by becoming the youngest qualifier in Wimbledon history and making it to the fourth round in her Grand Slam debut in 2019.
She lost in the second round of the French Open, her first major final, and has already won the biggest title of her young career. Gauff won her 19th match overall and her 12th straight since losing in the first round at the All England Club in July.
The sixth-seeded player Gauff accomplished this on Saturday by enduring Sabalenka’s forceful racket swings, ultimately growing accustomed to it, and successfully returning shot after shot. On just one of these points, Gauff broke to start the third set. She tracked down every ball thrown her way before smashing a put-away volley that she accented with a fist pump and a shout of, “Come on!”
Soon it was 4-0 in that set for Gauff. At 4-1, Sabalenka took a medical timeout while her left leg was massaged. Gauff stayed sharp during the break it lasted a handful of minutes, not the 50 as during a climate protest in the semifinals by practising some serves.
When the game resumed, Sabalenka broke to get within 4-2. But Gauff broke right back and soon was serving out the victory, then dropping onto her back on the court. She soon climbed into the stands to find her parents and others for hugs.