Brilliant Gauff nets first win over world No 1 Swiatek to reach final in Cincinnati

The 19-year-old’s first win over the Pole in eight attempts means she’ll play Sabalenka or Muchova in the final

Coco Gauff US Open 2023 Coco Gauff at the US Open 2023 Icon/SMI Panoramic

American teenager Coco Gauff laid down a marker ahead of this month’s US Open as she beat world No 1 Iga Swiatek for the first time in eight attempts to reach the final of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

The 19-year-old had not even won a set in their previous meetings but she held her nerve under pressure to clinch a 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-4 win which sets up a final against either Aryna Sabalenka or Karolina Muchova.

“Knock me down seven times, get up eight,” an ecstatic Gauff said, after clinching victory on her fourth match point.

“She played well on those match points. She’s the No 1 player in the world. you have to focus on your end of the court. I knew overall I was playing a bit stronger today and it came down to the wire.”

Gauff wins a set against Swiatek for first time

World No 1 Swiatek had looked a little ragged in her previous rounds but the Pole looked more secure from the start against Gauff, the winner recently in Washington.

Swiatek struck first as she broke to lead 4-2 but Gauff, hitting with real belief, broke straight back. Both women were so aggressive on return and the next two games went against serve as Swiatek broke for 5-3 but could not serve out the set.

Gauff levelled for 5-5 but after Swiatek held to lead again, the American was in big trouble when she trailed 15-40. But the 19-year-old came up with a series of brilliant points as she saved the two set points and held to force a tiebreak, only the second time she’d managed that in her meetings with the Pole.

The momentum and the crowd were very much with Gauff and she raced to a 4-0 lead in the breaker. Though Swiatek pegged her back to 4-2, Gauff kept her cool and won the next three points to take a set against Swiatek for the first time, much to the delight of Brad Gilbert, with recently joined the Gauff team.

Swiatek tries to hit back

Not surprisingly, Swiatek bounced back immediately, keeping her intensity high and breaking in the third game to lead 2-1. After consolidating the break, she was threatening a second break but Gauff was still being so aggressive and hit her way out of trouble to stay in touch at 2-3, albeit still a break down.

Swiatek held for 4-2 after a game which included a brilliant forehand volley and began to impose herself more and more. A second break, this time to love, sealed the set to take the match into a decider.

Gauff grabs vital break and holds on

Gauff took a bathroom break before the start of the third set but it didn’t disrupt Swiatek’s concentration. The Pole held easily to open the decider and looked solid in her opening service games.

But roared on by the Cincinnati crowd, Gauff grabbed the vital break midway through the set and held the advantage to 5-4, where she had the chance to serve out for victory.

At 30-0, it looked like she would do it easily but a double fault allowed Swiatek back in and the Pole saved three match points as the tension was ramped up.

But at the fourth time of asking, Gauff managed to get a pass at the feet of Swiatek, who sent a forehand half-volley wide to give the American a huge win heading into the US Open, which begins on August 28.

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