Coco Gauff Downs Karolina Muchova For Biggest Title Of Career In Cincinnati Masters

Coco Gauff captured the biggest title of her career on Sunday, powering past Karolina Muchova 6-3, 6-4 to win the WTA Cincinnati Open. The 19-year-old American rushed to her box to hug her team members after securing her first 1000-level title over French Open runner-up Muchova in just under two hours. Gauff was broken while serving for the straight-sets win, but two games later threw her hands up in joy after converting on her fourth match point.

“This is unbelievable,” said Gauff, who became the youngest winner of the Cincinnati WTA title and the first teenager to win five career titles since Caroline Wozniacki in 2008-09.

“Especially after Europe,” added the seventh seed, who was stung by a first-round exit at Wimbledon last month. “I had a lot of nights crying and trying to figure it all out but this is great.”

Gauff said she arrived on the US hard courts knowing what she needed to do to improve.

“I was going in practice and I was working on it. It just wasn’t translating into the matches,” she said. “It still can get a lot better, the things I want to improve.”

She fired 16 winners with the same number of unforced errors in the final, breaking Muchova five times.

“Today I really won it off of breaking serve, to be honest,” said Gauff, adding that she didn’t serve as well as she did in her semi-final victory over world number one Iga Swiatek.

“I don’t know if it was nerves — I wasn’t that nervous, to be honest. Also a combination of the long match yesterday. I wasn’t serving as well.”

She had enough, however, to get past an equally weary Muchova, who ousted second-ranked Aryna Sabalenka in the semis.

“I think that’s what makes a champion, is how you’re doing on the days you aren’t feeling so great,” Gauff said.

“I think physically we were both feeling the impact of yesterday. I think for me, I was just able to persevere a little bit more in that final push.”

Since losing in the opening round at Wimbledon, Gauff has won 11 of her last 12 matches with her only defeat coming against Jessica Pegula last week in the Montreal quarter-finals.

Despite that hiccup she’ll go into the US Open starting in eight days on a high.

She has now won five of her six career finals, including her first 500-level event at Washington two weeks ago and her first 1000-level title here.

A little short

Muchova will turn 27 on Monday with a career-best ranking of 10th.

“I’m really happy to make a top-10 debut,” she said. “It’s always a thing that is in your mind when you play tennis, to make it to top 10. It’s happening for me tomorrow, so that’s really nice result.

“Today’s match, yeah, I fell a little short today,” she added. “I was very hot.

“Coco played great. She kept me in the rallies … it was tough to keep up with her.”

Gauff and Muchova twice exchanged breaks in the opening set, with the American coughing up three double-faults to lose the third game and dropping serve again in the seventh.

But a final break of the Czech off a backhand error handed the set to the crowd favorite after 44 minutes.

Gauff went up two breaks in the second set, giving back one before she closed out the victory.

“She’s very fast,” Muchova said of Gauff, who she played for the first time. “I would say she really gets to most of the balls so you always have to expect that one more ball is coming.”

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