Coco Gauff's emergence as arguably the biggest star of American tennis since Serena Williams is great for the women's game, says former British number one Laura Robson.

Gauff captured the imagination of the American public by winning the US Open last September, the 19-year-old fighting back to beat Aryna Sabalenka in a memorable final at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

That made the teenager the first American – male or female – to win the tournament since Williams, who won the event for the sixth time in 2014. Gauff, Williams and her sister Venus are the only American women to claim the trophy in the 21st century.

Gauff will look to back up that success at the Australian Open when the first major of the year begins on Sunday, and Robson is delighted to see her thriving after being criticised earlier in 2023.

"I love what she's done in the last three months in particular, because over the clay courts and the grass-court season, everyone was writing her off," Robson told Stats Perform.

"She just went back to the drawing board, got a new team around her, played unbelievably at the Cincinnati Masters and came into the US Open with confidence. 

"You could tell, with the way that she played the longer matches, she just felt so good about her game. You could see how she was moving out there. 

"She is definitely the fastest out on tour at the moment on the women's side. I'm just super pumped for her. 

"To be in the stadium and to feel the energy when she won the US Open was crazy.

"I'd say 99.99 per cent of the stadium was going for her and it's going to be a huge boost for women's tennis to have an American superstar like her."

Asked whether Gauff was the natural successor to Williams – who finished her glittering career one major title shy of Margaret Court's record of 24 – Robson said other players' efforts to push American tennis forward should not be overlooked.

"I definitely feel like Jessica Pegula and Madison keys and people like that don't quite get enough credit for how much they've pushed American tennis," Robson continued. 

"Even going into the US Open, Pegula was the number one American, but Coco definitely had more attention on her, which is great because their different profiles are being raised, but at the same time they were still pushing each other along and playing doubles together almost every week. 

"It's just fantastic to see and the fact that there's now another name that you're throwing into the mix just makes everyone feel better."

Gauff currently sits a career-high third in the world rankings, though she has plenty of ground to make up on the top two, with Iga Swiatek currently edging out Sabalenka. 

Robson expects that duo to trade places often as they battle to dominate the women's game, saying: "You definitely struggle to see Swiatek losing at Roland Garros, with the way that she goes on clay.

"I think it's going to be quite nice because they each have different strengths. You would almost say Sabalenka goes slightly better on a hard court and Iga is better on clay.

"I can see it almost swapping back and forth over the next few years, but Iga is going to be right in there, for sure."

Coco Gauff has every chance of adding to her 2023 US Open triumph by winning further grand slam titles in the coming years.

That is the view of former world number four Johanna Konta, who also believes it is "only a matter of time" before the American rises to the top of the WTA rankings.

Having lost the French Open final to Iga Swiatek as an 18-year-old in 2022, Gauff went one step further on home soil last September, becoming the first American teenager to win the US Open title since Serena Williams in 1999.

Gauff is looking to add to that triumph when the Australian Open begins on Sunday, and she is considered one of the favourites to claim the trophy after making a flying start to 2024.

The teenager captured her second straight Auckland Classic title on Sunday, fighting back to beat Elina Svitolina and make it seven wins from eight tour-level singles finals in her career.

Konta believes last year's US Open victory was just the start for Gauff, telling Stats Perform: "She's already a grand slam champion. So, she's got every possibility to win multiple grand slams. 

"Once you're winning those tournaments, then it's only a matter of time before you get to world number one."

Gauff is up to third in the world rankings – the highest position of her career – though she has work to do to overhaul world number one Swiatek, who has won three of the last seven grand slams and is targeting her first Australian Open success after going out in the fourth round last year.

Konta, who failed to win a major during her own career despite reaching the last four at Melbourne Park, Roland Garros and Wimbledon, thinks the 22-year-old will be a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future. 

"I think she's an incredibly consistent player, the level is just very consistent," Konta said of Swiatek.

"I think she will be one of the ones that will be there for a long time if she's just able to sustain that. I think she'll be one of the top handful."

Novak Djokovic matched Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam singles titles with his fourth US Open win.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the Serbian’s record.

Grand slam record

Djokovic has won seven of the last 10 major tournaments he has played and came up just a Wimbledon final defeat to Carlos Alcaraz short of a season slam this year.

That extends his record to 65 wins and three defeats since the start of 2021. He missed last season’s Australian and US Opens due to his Covid vaccination status but has otherwise been in a class of his own in the last three years.

He won 2021’s first three slams and reached the final in New York, only for Daniil Medvedev to deny him a calendar year grand slam – making this year the second time he has gone within one match.

Perennial French Open champion Rafael Nadal defeated him in last year’s quarter-final in Paris, since when he has won four out of five slams and reached the final of the other.

In his career as a whole, Djokovic has won 88 per cent of his grand slam matches, 361 of 409, and one-third of the major tournaments he has entered with 24 of 72.

He is now two clear of Nadal for the most grand slam titles by a male player and moves ahead of Serena Williams for all players in the Open era. Court’s 24 wins were split almost equally between 13 in the amateur era and 11 in the Open era.

Man for all surfaces

Djokovic enjoys a stunning record at all four grand slams, as the only man to win each on at least three occasions and one of only three to hold the four titles simultaneously.

He has not matched the calendar slam feat achieved by American Don Budge in 1938 and Australian great Rod Laver in both 1962 and 1969, but did win Wimbledon and the US Open in 2015 before adding 2016’s Australian and French Opens.

Melbourne is where Djokovic has bulked up his grand slam total with an astonishing 10 wins, the third-most of any player at a single slam after Nadal’s 14 French Opens and Court’s 11 titles in Australia – only four of which came in the Open era.

Djokovic has won Wimbledon on seven occasions and the French three times.

Emma Raducanu completed her fairytale in New York by winning the US Open singles title on this day in 2021.

The 18-year-old produced one of the greatest sporting shocks of all time when she beat Leylah Fernandez 6-4 6-3 in the final.

Playing in just her second grand slam tournament, the 18-year-old from Kent won all 20 sets she played in qualifying and the main draw to become the first British woman to win a grand slam singles title since Virginia Wade lifted the Wimbledon trophy in 1977.

Raducanu was sitting her A Levels little more than three months previously and had not played a competitive match for more than a year but she burst onto the big stage like no one before her.

Her achievement was unprecedented. No qualifier had ever reached a slam final before while she became the first woman ever to win a title in as few as two tournaments, and the youngest since Maria Sharapova triumphed at Wimbledon in 2004.

“I’m still just so shocked, still in the moment,” she said immediately afterwards. “I can’t believe I came through that last service game. It honestly means absolutely everything to hold this trophy. I just don’t want to let go.

“Yesterday and this morning there were a few weird feelings that I couldn’t put my finger on, I didn’t know what it was, but I think that’s just normal and when I came out on court I felt completely at home, business as usual, I was just focusing one point at a time.

“I think the level was extremely high, both of us were playing unbelievable tennis. I had to fight really hard to cling onto that first set and then just keep my nose in front in the second.”

Raducanu’s victory saw her achieve great commercial success, earning lucrative partnerships with a number of high-end brands such as Dior, Porsche and Evian.

But success on the court has not been as easy to come by and her career has stalled since her unlikely win, with injuries severely restricting any progress.

Novak Djokovic made history with a record-equalling 24th grand slam title at the US Open.

The 36-year-old Serbian tied Margaret Court’s tally with a 6-3 7-6 (5) 6-3 victory over Daniil Medvedev.

Here, the PA news agency looks back at day 14 at the US Open.

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There was guaranteed to be British success in the men’s wheelchair singles with Alfie Hewett facing compatriot, and doubles partner, Gordon Reid.

It was Hewett who triumphed 6-4 6-3 to take his fourth US Open crown and eighth grand slam singles title.

Novak Djokovic secured his 24th grand slam title and became the oldest US Open champion in the Open era after a gruelling victory over Daniil Medvedev.

The 36-year-old Serbian, who is back up to world number one, beat third seed Medvedev 6-3 7-6 (5) 6-3 for a fourth Flushing Meadows crown.

The match hinged on a marathon second set lasting 104 minutes, which was longer than both players’ entire first-round matches.

Djokovic won it after a tie-break to move 2-0 up and finally break Medvedev’s spirit, going on to gain a measure of revenge after the Russian denied him the calendar grand slam in the final here two years ago.

The win also moved him level with Margaret Court’s record of major titles, although really that is a statistical irrelevance given the obvious difference in the level and depth of competition between now and the 1960s.

Of more importance to Djokovic is his record against his peers; he is now two clear of Rafael Nadal’s 22 grand slam crowns and four ahead of Roger Federer, who declared on 20 last year.

Having already won in Australia and Paris, Djokovic has picked up three major titles in a year for the fourth time in his career. Only the five-set defeat by Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final blemished his 2023 record.

Now he has surpassed Ken Rosewall, who was 35 when he won in 1970, and who did not have to contend with any sets lasting almost an hour and a quarter.

A Medvedev double-fault and a blistering backhand winner down the line gave Djokovic the early break point which he converted to love to subsequently take the first set in a relatively speedy 48 minutes.

But Medvedev, returning from about a quarter-of-a-mile behind the baseline, made Djokovic toil in the second set and it began to show with the favourite showing signs of fatigue.

After an hour and three quarters he produced his first break point of the match but Djokovic, with an obvious change of game plan in a bid to shorten the points, expertly snuffed it out with a big serve and an immaculate volley.

Medvedev had set point on the Djokovic serve but another volley at the net dealt with that, and when tie-break slipped away from the 27-year-old, the match soon followed.

Coco Gauff says Serena and Venus Williams are the reason she has won the US Open.

American teenager Gauff picked up her first grand slam title at her home major, coming from a set down to beat Aryna Sabalenka 2-6 6-3 6-2.

Gauff’s father Corey used to take his young daughter to Flushing Meadows to watch the Williams sisters in action.

And the gilded duo, with eight US Open titles between them, inspired an eight-year-old Gauff, filmed dancing in the stands inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, to follow in their footsteps.

“It’s crazy. I mean, they’re the reason why I have this trophy, to be honest,” said Gauff.

“They have allowed me to believe in this dream, you know, growing up. You know, there wasn’t too many black tennis players dominating the sport.

“It was literally, at that time when I was younger, it was just them that I can remember.

“Obviously more came because of their legacy. So it made the dream more believable. But all the things that they had to go through, they made it easier for someone like me to do this.

“I mean, you look back at the history with Indian Wells with Serena (when she was booed in 2001), all she had to go through, Venus fighting for equal pay.

“Yeah, it’s just, like, it’s crazy and it’s an honour to be in that same kind of line-up as them.”

Gauff’s day of destiny saw her became the first American teenager to triumph at Flushing Meadows since Serena Williams in 1999.

The latter’s final farewell to tennis at the same championships last year left a colossal void in tennis in the US.

So it felt entirely appropriate that Gauff, the heir apparent to the 23-time grand slam winner, stepped into her shoes 12 months later.

Gauff used her acceptance speech to thank “the people who didn’t believe in me”.

The 19-year-old was at a low ebb after losing in the first round at Wimbledon, but she has since won 18 of her past 19 matches and picked up three titles, including the big one in the Big Apple.

“I would say for sure a little bit after the Wimbledon loss, honestly I just felt people were like, ‘oh, she’s hit her peak and she’s done’. It was all hype,” she added.

“I see the comments. People don’t think I see it but I see it. I’m very aware of tennis Twitter.

“Honestly after that, I was like, OK, I have a lot of work to do. So I think this means a lot to me. I wish I could give this trophy to my past self so she can be, like, all those tears are for this moment.”

Coco Gauff became the first American teenager since Serena Williams to reach a US Open final and the timing of her home breakthrough could not have been scripted better.

Williams’ diamond-encrusted and star-studded departure from tennis at Flushing Meadows last year showcased the impact she has had on the sport over 25 years.

But it also left a big hole, particular for tennis in the US, where a dearth of male success over the same period has seen its profile wane.

Now 12 months later, here is Gauff, taking over the baton in seamless fashion and poised to become one of the world’s biggest sporting stars.

The Williams family has played a huge role in the story of Gauff’s first 19 years. She grew up idolising the sisters, while her first pay check came from playing a young Serena in an advert.

Speaking about Serena’s influence on her in New York last year, Gauff said: “Growing up, I never thought that I was different because the number one player in the world was somebody who looked like me.

“I love that she always elevates herself. Sometimes being a woman, a black woman in the world, you kind of settle for less. I can’t remember a moment in her career or life that she settled for less.”

It was Venus rather than Serena, though, who was central to Gauff bursting through on the global stage, aged only 15.

A childhood prodigy who won the US national under-12 title aged 10 and a grand slam junior crown at only 14, she qualified for the women’s singles at Wimbledon in 2019 and defeated Venus in the first round.

Wowing with her serve, backhand, athleticism and a maturity way beyond her years, Gauff rode a wave of support through to the fourth round.

The talk was already of when the teenager would win a grand slam and she has had to handle huge expectations from that moment on, but – while she will not turn 20 until next March – the last four years have seen her gain an excellent grounding in the game.

Gauff has overcome moments of doubt, including a first-round loss at Wimbledon this summer, to maintain a steadily-upward trajectory, reaching her first senior grand slam final at the French Open last summer.

 

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What makes Gauff, who has already been ranked world number one in doubles, such a huge asset for tennis is not just her performances and potential on court but the person she is away from it.

A big fan of TikTok and superheroes, Gauff is very much a 21st century American teenager, yet she also uses her platform to advocate for causes she believes in, speaking at a Black Lives Matter rally in her home town of Delray Beach when she was only 16.

She is a superb talker on a range of subjects, saying earlier this week about handling the spotlight: “At first I used to think negative things, like, ‘Why is there so much pressure, why is this so hard’?

“I realise in a way it’s pressure but it’s not. There are people struggling to feed their families, people who don’t know where their next meal is going to come from, people who have to pay their bills.

“That’s real pressure, that’s real hardship, that’s real life. I’m getting paid to do what I love and getting support to do what I love. That’s something that I don’t take for granted.”

Born in Atlanta to parents Candi and Corey – Gauff’s given name is Cori but she is universally known as Coco – who were talented in athletics and basketball, respectively, the family moved to back to Candi and Corey’s home town of Delray Beach in Florida when their daughter was seven to enhance her training opportunities.

Gauff’s parents subsequently gave up their careers to coach her, although they have been happy to bring in outside help, with Gauff attending the academy of Serena Williams’ former coach Patrick Mouratoglou and currently working with the hugely-experienced Brad Gilbert.

There are areas of her game that Gauff can improve, notably a forehand that opponents now routinely target, but there have been no real mis-steps so far on the road to superstardom.

The US Open semi-final between Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchova was held up after a protest in the stands.

Three people, wearing T-shirts bearing the words ‘fossil fuels’ began shouting after the first game of the second set, forcing play to be stopped.

American teenager Gauff and Czech 10th seed Muchova initially stayed on the court for about 10 minutes while security tried to deal with the situation.

The Arthur Ashe crowd at one point began chanting “kick them out” with the protesters apparently being difficult to shift.

“Are they like talking to them or are they going to remove them?” Gauff asked chair umpire Alison Hughes and tournament referee Jake Garner.

She then spoke to her coach, Brad Gilbert, saying “they say they are negotiating, like it’s a hostage situation. What should I do?”

Both players eventually left the court with Gauff leading 6-4 1-0.

Defending champions Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram are back in the US Open final after beating Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek in three sets.

Britain’s Salisbury and American Ram are looking for an unprecedented third consecutive men’s doubles crown at Flushing Meadows.

Their 7-5 3-6 6-3 win, in two-and-a-quarter hours, was a 17th successive victory in New York for the pair.

The first set went with serve until 5-5 when three backhand returns from Salisbury brought up three break points.

Croatian Dodig continued serving to the Salisbury backhand, and regretted it when he hit a clean winner to put the third seeds in control.

Salisbury served out the set to love, clinching it with an overhead down the ‘T’.

But the Salisbury serve was broken late in the second set as Dodig and American Krajicek levelled the match.

A forehand down the line from Ram secured the crucial break at the start of the decider, and Ram finished the job with an unreturnable serve on match point.

Salisbury said: “We knew it would be a really tough match and that it might go all the way.

“They raised their level but we knew we would keep going and compete. Raj played amazing in that third set and we’re happy to be in the final.

“It’s pretty amazing. We didn’t think we’d be here but there’s something about this place which seems to bring the best out of us.”

A tearful Ram, at his home grand slam, said: “It’s been a tough year for us and to play this level, stick together like we did, and beat the best team this year, I thought we did great and I’m just proud of our performance.”

Ram snacked on some sushi in between the second and third sets and it seemed to do the trick.

“It was so hot earlier I couldn’t eat as much as I wanted so I got my boy to go and get me some sushi and it helped, I think,” he added.

Salisbury and Ram will face India’s Rohan Bopanna and Australian Matthew Ebden in Friday’s final.

There was disappointment for rising British star Hannah Klugman in the juniors event.

The 14-year-old needed a medical time-out after the first set in her quarter-final against Laura Samsonova and eventually retired at 6-0 3-0 down.

She later withdrew from the doubles, in which she was due to play with Mimi Xu, on another day of 35C-plus temperatures at Flushing Meadows.

Carlos Alcaraz paid tribute to new Real Madrid star Jude Bellingham following his quarter-final victory at the US Open.

The defending champion spread his arms wide, mimicking England midfielder Bellingham’s goal celebration, after beating Alexander Zverev in straight sets on Wednesday night.

Alcaraz posted a picture on X, formerly known as Twitter, captioned “Hey Jude!”, and tagged Bellingham.

His fellow 20-year-old responded on Thursday morning, writing: “Que maquina! (What a machine) Keep going mate.”

Alcaraz is a fan of Real and spoke earlier in the tournament about his admiration for Bellingham, who has hit the ground running in LaLiga with five goals in his first four games.

“I’m really happy to watch him play at Real Madrid,” said Alcaraz. “He’s such a great, talented player, one of the best in the world.

“I’m sure that he’s going to be the best player in the world in that position. I’m just really, really happy to have him in the team. I talk a little bit with him. He’s such a great person, as well.”

Carlos Alcaraz is one step closer to defending his US Open title after beating Alexander Zverev to reach the semi-finals.

He will face Daniil Medvedev, who warned a player might “die” during his win over Andrey Rublev as New York sizzled in 90-degree heat and energy-sapping humidity.

Aryna Sabalenka flexed her muscles as the incoming world number one by beating Chinese youngster Zheng Qinwen, while Madison Keys stunned Wimbledon champ Marketa Vondrousova.

Here, the PA news agency looks back at day 10 at the US Open.

Pic of the dayMatch of the day

The women’s doubles provided the most drama as Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva beat Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia 5-7 7-5 6-4 in an epic match lasting three hours and 12 minutes.

Stat of the day

Quote of the day

Brit watch

Joe Salisbury and America’s Rajeev Ram are in the semi-finals of the men’s doubles.

The defending champions, looking for a third consecutive title in New York, face second seeds Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek.

Five-time champions Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid are into the men’s wheelchair doubles semi-finals.

Fallen seeds

Men: Andrey Rublev (8), Alexander Zverev (12).
Women: Marketa Vondrousova (9), Zheng Qinwen (23).

Who’s up next?

The women’s semi-finals take centre stage with Coco Gauff taking on 10th Czech seed Karolina Muchova and new world number one Sabalenka, of Belarus, facing the second American in the last four, Keys.

Carlos Alcaraz moved a step closer to defending his US Open title after sweeping past Alexander Zverev to reach the semi-finals.

The Spanish world number one became the second man in the Open era, behind Andre Agassi, to reach the last four at Flushing Meadows three times before turning 21.

Alcaraz, looking to do the Wimbledon and US Open double, will face Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev in Friday night’s semis and remains on course for another final showdown with Novak Djokovic, who he beat in July’s epic SW19 showpiece.

Zverev, the German 12th seed, has proved he is back at the top of the sport this fortnight after eight months out following the horror ankle injury he suffered against Rafael Nadal at last year’s French Open.

But the 2020 runner-up was unable to halt the Alcaraz juggernaut in a 6-3 6-2 6-4 defeat inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The first set was evenly poised on serve at 3-3 when Alcaraz, by no means at his electric best, took control of the match.

He won six of the next seven games to go a set and a break up, and Zverev needed a medical time-out after Alcaraz, clapping sawdust onto his hands to get a better grip of his racket on a horribly humid night, moved two sets ahead.

Zverev forced two break points at 2-2 in the third, but when they disappeared his chances went with them as Alcaraz broke for 5-4 and served out for the victory in two hours and 29 minutes.

“To see him in the quarter-finals of a grand slam playing at his best, I’m so happy,” said Alcaraz of his opponent.

“We enjoy his game and we are really happy to have him back.”

The 20-year-old added: “I’m feeling comfortable playing in this court, playing in New York.

“I’m showing my best level. I’m feeling good physically and ready for a good battle in the semi-final.”

Carlos Alcaraz is one step closer to defending his US Open title after beating Alexander Zverev to reach the semi-finals.

He will face Daniil Medvedev, who warned a player might “die” during his win over Andrey Rublev as New York sizzled in 90-degree heat and energy-sapping humidity.

Aryna Sabalenka flexed her muscles as the incoming world number one by beating Chinese youngster Zheng Qinwen, while Madison Keys stunned Wimbledon champ Marketa Vondrousova.

Here, the PA news agency looks back at day 10 at the US Open.

Pic of the dayMatch of the day

The women’s doubles provided the most drama as Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva beat Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia 5-7 7-5 6-4 in an epic match lasting three hours and 12 minutes.

Stat of the day

Quote of the day

Brit watch

Joe Salisbury and America’s Rajeev Ram are in the semi-finals of the men’s doubles.

The defending champions, looking for a third consecutive title in New York, face second seeds Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek.

Five-time champions Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid are into the men’s wheelchair doubles semi-finals.

Fallen seeds

Men: Andrey Rublev (8), Alexander Zverev (12).
Women: Marketa Vondrousova (9), Zheng Qinwen (23).

Who’s up next?

The women’s semi-finals take centre stage with Coco Gauff taking on 10th Czech seed Karolina Muchova and new world number one Sabalenka, of Belarus, facing the second American in the last four, Keys.

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