CINCINNATI, Ohio — American tennis star Coco Gauff had never won a set against Iga Swiatek of Poland in seven previous meetings. The 19-year old beat the No. 1-ranked player in the world, 7-6, 3-6, 6-4, to advance to the final at the Cincinnati Open.
Swiatek, winner of three of the last six Grand Slam titles, survived three match points before Gauff finally finished off the upset to the delight of a large crowd that loudly supported the American.
“It feels really good,” Gauff said. “It shows that I can be at that level, or compete at that level at least. I’m sure I’m going to face her many more times. I still think that I’m not even to the peak of my game.”
The seventh-seeded Gauff hadn’t won more than four games in a set against Swiatek since their first meeting in Rome in 2021 until winning the tiebreaker to take the opening set.
“Today I fought to the end,” Swiatek said. “Coco, she’s a great player. This one, she deserved it more. My tank of fuel is pretty empty. I’m happy to have some days off.”
Gauff is the fourth teenager to reach the final in Cincinnati during the Open Era and first since Vera Zvonareva in 2004. The last teenager to win the title was 17-year-old Linda Tuero in 1968.
Swiatek played a steady first set and capitalized on a weak service game from the American to earn a chance to serve out the set at 5-3. Gauff refused to let the thoughts of another missed opportunity enter her mind.
She played an aggressive game to break Swiatek to get back on serve. When Swiatek earned a chance to close the set two games later, holding two set points as Gauff served to force the tiebreak, Gauff escaped again with the help of a gutsy baseline overhead winner.
In the tiebreak, Gauff went on lockdown. Swiatek made three unforced errors to give Gauff an insurmountable 4-0 lead and the 19-year-old let out a defiant roar after sealing her first set in fifteen tries.
Swiatek misfired on 21 unforced errors in the opening set. Gauff also held her to just 6 winners while tallying 10 of her own.
“In my career I didn’t lose many matches 6-2, 6-3,” Swiatek said. “When I lose, I always fight and I always try my best. Even if I’m playing not the best tennis, I can still play kind of [play] even tennis to my opponents. That’s a positive thing.”
After making over 20 errors in the first set, Swiatek made just 8 in the second set. She leveled out her forehand by giving it more margin and bigger targets, while using her backhand to control the court. Swiatek also worked to shorten rallies by coming into the net.
Serving for the win at 5-4, Gauff called upon her resilience again. After Swiatek gamely saved three match points and earned a break point of her own, Gauff held her off to close out the win on her fourth match point after 2 hours and 50 minutes.
“Coco, for sure, she played great tennis,” Swiatek said. “I got to check, but I think her first serve was better than most of the matches we played against each other, faster. She played more in, even though she’s risking with that speed.”