American tennis crowned a new queen and US Open champion on Saturday as Coco Gauff beat Aryna Sabalenka in the Flushing Meadows final to claim her first Grand Slam and ascend the throne left vacant by Serena Williams.
The first teenager to play in a US Open final since Serena in 2001 there was symmetry to the moment as Gauff rallied to beat the second seeded Belarusian 2-6 6-3 6-2 and end a six-year barren stretch for American tennis fans, who were finally able to celebrate a homegrown champion.
“I am so happy I could make this country proud,” said Gauff as chants of “USA, USA” rang out behind her.
American women have been on the rise in recent years moving into the top 10 and winning tournaments but since Serena Williams played her last match on Arthur Ashe in 2022 the US has been without a standard bearer – until now.
Gauff, who as a young girl said she had dreamt of becoming the next Serena Williams, is now just that the undisputed face of US tennis with many predicting she will become the world’s top ranked player one day with a trophy case packed with Grand Slam titles.
“Congratulations to US Open champion, @CocoGauff! We couldn’t be prouder of you on and off the court – and we know the best is yet to come,” posted former US President Barack Obama on social media platform X.
Still just 19-years-old Gauff has matured under an unforgiving sporting spotlight as player and a person.
The finished product was on display on Saturday as Gauff defused Sabalenka’s power with speed and tenacity running down ball-after-ball and then acknowledged her success with grace.
“That little girl, like she had the dream, but I don’t know if she fully believed it,” said Gauff. “As a kid, you have so many dreams.
“As you get older sometimes it can fiddle away. I would tell her don’t lose that dream.”
As impressive as Gauff is on the court she is no less so away from tennis.
Immediately after her win Gauff’s first reaction after lifting herself off the court and wiping away tears of joy was to search the stands for her parents, who used to bring her to New York as a young girl to watch her idols on the same court.
The charismatic teen also possesses a sharp social awareness and delightful sense of humour all of which are going to make her very rich as sponsors rush to her door.
When climate activists interrupted her semi-final causing a nearly hour delay Gauff later showed no animosity saying later she believed that climate change was real.
The US Open this year celebrated Billie Jean King and the 50th anniversary of the fight for equal pay, Gauff playfully acknowledging the struggle when accepting the trophy.
“Thank you Billie Jean for fighting for this,” said Gauff waving a $3 million winner’s cheque.
Gauff has long been tipped for greatness.
A top junior she was presented the key to her city of Delray Beach at just 14 and burst onto the world scene a year later beating another of her idols Venus Williams at Wimbledon.
Progress as a professional has been steady but not always at a pace some demanded.
Last year she made her Grand Slam breakthrough reaching the final of the French Open, but losing. Then at this year’s Wimbledon hit a low with a first round loss that left her feeling like the dream had ended for her.
“It’s been difficult it’s been a long journey to this point,” said Gauff. “I wasn’t a fully developed player, and I still think I have a lot of development to go at that moment.
“I think people were putting a lot of pressure on me to win.
“Now I just realise that I just need to go out there and try my best.”
Renewed focus and the return home for the hard court season brought a change of form and motivation.
Since the Wimbledon loss Gauff has won 18 of 19 matches include US Open, Cincinnati Open and Washington.
“Thank you to the people who didn’t believe in me,” sixth seed Gauff told a packed Arthur Ashe stadium that backed her from the moment she appeared out of the tunnel. “A month ago, I won a 500 (level) title and people said I would stop at that.
“Two weeks ago I won a 1000 title and people were saying that was the biggest it was going to get.
“So three weeks later, I’m here with this trophy right now.
“I tried my best to carry this with grace and I have been doing my best and honestly to those who thought they were putting water on my fire you were really adding gas to it and now I am burning so bright.”
Japan down Samoa to keep quarter-final dream alive, England go through – ARN News Centre
Japan took a big step towards reaching the quarter-finals for the second successive World Cup with a 28-22 win over Samoa on Thursday, sending England through to the knockout stage as Pool D winners in the process.
Pieter Labuschagne, Michael Leitch and Kazuki Himeno scored tries and 13 points from the boot of flyhalf Rikiya Matsuda gave the Brave Blossoms enough breathing space to hold off a late fightback from 14-man Samoa.
The Samoans had a try on the board from Seilala Lam before winger Ben Lam sent from the field in the 47th minute and two more from Duncan Paia’aua and Christian Leali’ifano in the final quarter were not quite enough to overhaul Japan.
“It’s a big win, that was a really tough game,” said Japan coach Jamie Joseph. “We had to work hard to get the win, I take my hat off to the Samoan boys, they really took it to us.”
Japan moved out of a tie with Samoa into second place in the pool on nine points with a winner-takes-all showdown against Argentina looming next week if the Pumas, as expected, beat Chile on Saturday.
Samoa coach Seilala Mapusua said the red card had proved decisive as his team’s hopes of progressing were reduced to the mathematical.
“Really proud of the guys with the effort they put into the game, I couldn’t have asked for more,” he said. “But it’s tough playing a game against 15 men and to be down a man down.”
Both teams came into the match with one win from two games and the early exchanges were even until Japan struck in the 14th minute.
Fullback Lomano Lemeki, making his first test start for two years, bounced off a couple of tackles down the left wing to drive deep into the Samoa half and flanker Labuschagne barged over the line from close range.
Samoa were dominating territory and forcing Japan into a lot of tackles but getting no penetration from their backline and emerged with only a penalty from a long period in the red zone.
Matsuda stroked over a penalty in the 28th minute to continue his flawless performance from the tee at this World Cup and in Japan’s next attack around the half-hour mark created a try.
Japan were going through phases close to the Samoa line when Matsuda lofted a looping cutout pass out to Leitch on the left wing, leaving the former captain with a clear canter to the line.
Matsuda nailed the conversion from the wing to give Japan a 17-3 lead and Samoa suffered a second blow when scrumhalf Jonathan Taumateine was sin-binned.
Japan were also reduced to 14 men three minutes before the break when Shota Horie was sent to the sin-bin and Samoa took immediate advantage, rolling hooker Seilala Lam over the line for a try to cut the deficit to 17-8 at halftime.
The yellow card for a high shot by winger Lam early in the second half allowed Japan to reply in kind in the 49th minute, skipper Kazuki Himeno emerging from the pile of bodies to claim the try.
Matsuda missed his first kick of the tournament from the conversion but the news was worse for Samoa with the referee confirming that Lam’s yellow card had been upgraded to a red.
Another Matsuda penalty in the 56th minute extended the lead to 25-8 but Samoa hit back six minutes later with a try from fullback Duncan Paia’aua after the Samoan forwards again took a direct approach.
Former Wallabies flyhalf Leali’ifano added the extras and skipped across the line for a converted try of his own two minutes from time but Japan held on for their third successive win over Samoa in the World Cup.
Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open dates announced for 2024 – ARN News Centre
The Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open is set to make a spectacular return to the UAE tennis scene from February 3 – 11, 2024, at the Zayed Sports City International Tennis Centre, following its successful inaugural edition this year.
The WTA 500 tournament, presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council and hosted in partnership with Mubadala, has quickly become one of the most prestigious events in women’s tennis, featuring 28 singles players and 16 doubles teams competing for a $900,000 prize fund and coveted ranking points.
The tournament is part of Abu Dhabi’s commitment to hosting world-class sporting events and aims to inspire young athletes and unite the tennis community.
In addition to top-notch tennis action, the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open offers an immersive Fan Village experience with player appearances, family-friendly entertainment, contests and diverse food options.
With affordable ticket prices starting at AED 50 for kids and AED 95 for adults, the event promises to be an ideal outing for families and sports enthusiasts.
Fans are encouraged to subscribe online for early access to tickets and the best seats.
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Dynamo beat Lionel Messi-less Miami to win US Open Cup – ARN News Centre
Griffin Dorsey and Amine Bassi scored before halftime and the Houston Dynamo won their second US Open Cup with a 2-1 victory over Inter Miami on Wednesday at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Inter Miami played the final without injured stars Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba.
Houston goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell made three stops to preserve the victory as the Dynamo repeated a feat they previously accomplished in 2018, this time under first-year manager Ben Olsen.
Houston becomes the seventh MLS team to win the US Open Cup on multiple occasions. Olsen becomes only the third manager to win the nation’s oldest surviving national soccer competition with two different clubs, having guided DC United to the title in 2013.
For the fourth time in five matches, Miami played without Messi, who has been nursing a lower-body muscle issue since he went to play with the Argentina national team earlier this month.
Josef Martinez scored a late consolation goal for the Herons, who won the 2023 Leagues Cup led by Messi’s 10 goals in that competition last month.
Via their respective trophies, both Miami and Houston will compete in the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup.
Houston was dominant in the first half and held a deserved 2-0 lead before Miami even managed its first shot.
Dorsey opened the scoring in the 24th minute on a well-worked team attack that began with Corey Baird cutting in from the left flank, and then playing the ball to Artur in the center channel.
Artur worked the ball further to the right into the overlapping run of Dorsey, who took one touch to control and then hammered his finish through goalkeeper Drake Callender and into the net from about 10 yards out.
Seven minutes later, Nelson Quinones got behind the Miami back line and was taken down by DeAndre Yedlin just inside the 18-yard box.
In the 33rd minute, Bassi stepped up and cooly converted his penalty past Callender, who guessed incorrectly.
Bassi appeared to have set up Quinones for a third goal in the second half, but referee Jon Freemon ruled Quinones had been fractionally offside following a video review.
Martinez made the final stages interesting when he took Facundo Farias’ throughball and drove a low finish through Tarbell’s legs in the second minute of second-half stoppage time.