CORI ‘COCO’ GAUFF broke her duck on the WTA Tour by emerging as the Linz Open champion on Sunday (Oct 13).
The teenager, who only crept into the main draw as a late lucky loser, saw off 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 1-6 6-2 to end an extraordinary week in Austria.
Gauff, who lost in the 2nd round of qualifying to German world no.130 Tamara Korpatsch, was given a second shot at the tournament when she was offered a lucky loser slot. This occurred when Greece’s Maria Sakkari withdrew injured just quarter of an hour before her match.
The 15-year-old seized her opportunity by whirling through the draw like a hurricane, including a shock straight set quarter-final triumph over top seed Kiki Bertens – the Dutch star becoming Gauff’s first ever top 10 victim on the circuit.
A topsy-turvy final saw Gauff hit top gear to ease away with the opening set before her Latvian opponent bit back with aplomb to comfortably level matters.
The deciding set became one-way traffic early on as Gauff turned on the style much to the delight of the appreciative but impartial crowd. Gauff forced seemingly endless errors from Ostapenko to speed into a 5-0 lead but then stuttered.
The French-based youngster threw away two tournament points to concede a game, and appeared to have pressed the panic button after dropping her serve to be pegged back 5-2. But the tenacious teenager made no mistake in the next game to secure her maiden WTA Tour title.
Gauff moves into the Luxembourg Open next and, courtesy of her tournament triumph, will move into the world’s top 75 when the latest rankings are announced on Monday.