15-year-old Coco Gauff nabs first singles title

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor

American 15-year-old phenom Coco Gauff won her first-ever WTA title on Sunday, becoming the youngest champion in 15 years in the process.

Gauff took down Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 at the Linz Open in Austria, capping off an incredible start to her young career and an impressive tournament.

At 15 years and seven months old, Gauff is the ninth-youngest woman to ever win a title. She’s the youngest champion since Nicole Vaidisova (15 years, 3 months, 23 days) won at Vancouver in 2004.

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Gauff rose to prominence this year when she made the fourth round of Wimbledon and third round of the US Openearning the respect of World No. 1 Naomi Osaka, but this was perhaps her best showing yet. Despite struggling through a tough second set, Gauff won the first five games of the final set to put the match out of reach.

Gauff only dropped two sets in her five matches of the tournament and knocked off world No. 8 Kiki Bertens in straight sets the process. That was her first win against a top-10 ranked player after losing her two previous chances against Osaka and Simona Halep.

After the win, Gauff called Linz her “my little lucky place” and said she hoped to come back to defend her title next year.

"I'm still overwhelmed and shocked," Gauff said, via the Associated Press. "I guess it's crazy to say it's my first WTA title. 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, and now I'm the champion, so it's crazy.

“It's just literally insane that I got in as a lucky loser and now I'm the champion. 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."

Gauff entered the tournament ranked No. 110 in the world and guaranteed herself a spot in the top 100 for the first time in her career after her second-round win over Kateryna Kozlova. Her title vaults her all the way up to No. 71.

With a $43,000 prize for winning at Linz, Gauff's career earnings have surpassed the half-million mark. That's on top of her endorsement deals she's signed with New Balance, Barilla Group and Head, which are expected to earn her more than $1 million this year.

Coco Gauff won her first WTA singles title at just 15 years old. (Getty)
Coco Gauff won her first WTA singles title at just 15 years old. (Getty)

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