The last Grand Slam of the year on the women’s side will be won on Saturday evening when the final of the US Open takes place on the Arthur Ashe Stadium as the home star Coco Gauff takes on Aryna Sabalenka for the title.
Both these women have played in a Grand Slam final in the past but this is the first time they will do so in New York so we are guaranteed a new name on the trophy on what should be a high quality conclusion to the tournament.
The Cincinnati Masters champion Coco Gauff has added another six wins to her winning streak so far in this tournament and will go in search of a first Grand Slam title in front of her home fans. You wouldn’t be able to say it has been all plain sailing for the teenager in this tournament but the overriding aim is to win and she has managed to find ways to do that. You sense she is going to need to show more than she has so far to get over the line here.
The concern over Gauff looking in is the fact that players without a lot of power such as Laura Siegemund, Caroline Wozniacki and Elise Mertens have all troubled the American over the course of this fortnight and now she meets not only the best player she has faced all tournament in terms of the rankings, but also the most powerful player she has met too. One positive could be that this is the first time she has been the underdog all week and that release of pressure could allow her to flourish more.
The Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka has finally made it through to the US Open final and she will be looking to bookend her Grand Slam campaign with titles. This was an absolute cruise of a fortnight for the Belarusian up until the semi-final when it looked like she had met her match in the form of Madison Keys, but when the winning line arrived the American lost control and opened the door for Sabalenka to barge right through.
Having come that close to exiting the competition, there might be a feeling that Sabalenka could free wheel in this final but she will become the world number one on Monday and has spoken about doing that by landing another Grand Slam title and proving to everyone that she is the best player in the world right now. That might bring about an extra pressure but I think we are past the days where she is unable to handle that sort of scrutiny.
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Coco Gauff might be the younger player of the two but she has a 3-2 lead on the head-to-head record against Aryna Sabalenka. Four of those matches have taken place on a hard court and they are all-square at 2-2 in those matches. Their last meeting was in Indian Wells earlier in the year when Sabalenka won in straight sets and only lost four games. This is the first time they will have met in the latter stages of a tournament let alone in a final. It is also their maiden meeting in a Grand Slam.
Coco Gauff has had a good run on the American hard courts this season but I think she meets her match here. I don’t have any concerns over Aryna Sabalenka on a stage like this anymore but even if I did there would have to be doubts over how the teenager will handle the occasion. She has played in a Grand Slam final before but that was in Paris. This is in front of her own fans and will be a completely different proposition.
I just think Sabalenka will be too powerful for Gauff. Sure there will probably be a few errors from the Sabalenka racquet as she looks to go big and impose some sort of authority on her younger opponent but over the course of the match once the world number one in waiting has found her range I expect her to pull through. This second serve of Gauff is there for the taking and if there are nerves around you would imagine Sabalenka will get more than a few looks at it. I don’t see Sabalenka losing this one.
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