District of Coco -- Gauff Captures Mubadala Citi DC Open with Triumph vs Maria Sakkari

6 August 2023 By Ben Raby
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Gauff, 19, becomes youngest women's champion in tournament history


American Coco Gauff capped off a nearly flawless week at the Mubadala Citi DC Open by beating Greek World No.9 Maria Sakkari 6-2, 6-3 in the women’s final.

The win secured the fourth singles title of Gauff’s career and her first at a WTA-500 event. It is also her first career singles title in the United States.

“It means a lot to me really,” Gauff said of reaching that milestone in Washington. “Any American tournament I think is special, but I feel like even more here. I have played Cincinnati and I have played other tournaments in the U.S., even last year in San Jose when this was in San Jose, but I think that there is just something about D.C.”

Gauff needed one hour and 24 minutes to earn her fourth consecutive straight-sets triumph in as many matches this week. Along the way, Gauff also earned wins over Hailey Baptiste, Belinda Bencic and defending champion Liudmila Samsonova.

All this in her first tournament back since a first-round loss at Wimbledon

The 19-year-old is now the youngest women’s champion in tournament history.

“Being the youngest to win this tournament is pretty cool,” she said. “I mean, I'm looking at the names on that [awning of past champions] and one of my main motivations was really to be on that wall, so I'm really happy that it will remain here for as long as the tournament stays here, hopefully forever.”

Gauff’s title is the culmination of her first week with a new support team. While Gauff began working with full-time coach Pera Riba in June, this marked the first time they were joined by legendary coach and TV commentator Brad Gilbert, who is working with Gauff as a consultant.

“I'm glad that we were able to make this result,” Gauff said in her on-court post-match interview. “I know those who were with me at Wimbledon it was really tough a couple of weeks ago. We were all feeling it. I'm glad I was able to bounce back.”

Gauff won her maiden WTA doubles title in Washington with partner Caty McNally in 2019.

This marks Gauff’s second singles title of the year (Aukland) and improves her lifetime record to 2-4 against Sakkari.

“Mentally she looks a lot more mature,” Sakkari said of Gauff. “She knows what she's doing on the court. You know, she's a top player. There was all this hype for a reason. She wasn't just, you know, a one-off thing that she was just good when she was 15. She's consistent and that shows her level.”

Like Gauff, Sakkari was also competing for the first time this week since a premature Wimbledon exit.

“It was an incredible week,” she said after playing in her first final of the year. “I'm not going to lie, it's pretty disappointing. But at the same time, a month ago I didn't think I would be here.”

Sakkari impressed this week with wins over U.S. Open finalists Leylah Fernandez and Madison Keys on Friday before beating American No.1 Jessica Pegula in the semifinals Saturday.

She is hopeful that after first-round defeats at both the French Open and Wimbledon, this finals appearance in Washington will serve as a good springboard heading towards the U.S. Open.

“You know, that's the goal,” said. That's what I want to, you know, have the good Grand Slam. It's the last one of the season, so for me, it's going to be big if I can do well.

“I'm playing great tennis. I still have two very big tournaments ahead of me before the Open. I'm hoping for good results in those two, and then hopefully things can go my way.”



Also on championship Sunday, the Argentine doubles tandem of Maximo Gonazlez and Andres Molteni rallied to beat the All-American duo of Mackenzie McDonald and Ben Shelton 6-7, 6-2, 10-6 to capture their Tour-high fourth title this season (Cordoba, Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona).

McDonald, a 2021 DC finalist in singles, and Shelton were appearing their first ATP Tour final together.