(Tennis news) After a 49-minute break, Gauff, 19, finished off a victory over Czech 10th seed Muchova with a score of 6-4, 7-5.
Serving at 5-4, Gauff faced a match point that he could not convert, but he did break Muchova to secure the victory after holding off a 40-shot rally to earn the sixth chance. The final on Saturday will feature Aryna Sabalenka, the second seed.
Sabalenka, the winner of the Australian Open and the eventual new world number one, battled back to defeat Madison Keys by scores of 0-6 7-6 (7-1) 7-6 (10-5) and avert an all-American showdown in New York.
After losing to Poland’s Iga Swiatek in the 2022 French Open singles final, sixth seed Gauff will be making his second attempt to capture a Grand Slam singles championship.
Gauff raised her fist to express her defiance and fight after sealing the victory in front of a jubilant home crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
She let out another yell of jubilation and gestured with a heart to the crowd, thanking them for their support in getting her over the finish line. In the end, Gauff’s ability to win was a credit to her own tenacity and mental toughness, which she claims she has developed over a fruitful North American hard-court season.
“Some of those points it was so loud, I don’t know if my ears will be OK. Please be louder – this is crazy,” Gauff told the crowd in her on-court interview.
“I grew up watching this tournament, it feels so special. But the job is not done.”
Gauff is a step away from her fate.
Gauff has been hailed as a potential major champion ever since she made a splash on the scene in 2019 as a 15-year-old sensation. She now has a second chance to compete at the highest level of her sport while still a teenager thanks to a valiant victory over Muchova at Flushing Meadows.
Gauff, who turned 19 in March, is the first American since Serena Williams in 1999 to make it to her home Grand Slam final. She had just finished the best stretch of her career on the North American hard-court tour when it happened.
She had the ideal lead-up to the US Open after taking home her largest singles victories in Washington and Cincinnati, and she has since flourished in front of her home spectators in New York.
Gauff got off to a quick start in her matchup with Muchova, who had a tight appearance and was attempting to advance to her second major singles final after losing to Swiatek at the French Open earlier this year.
Muchova made numerous errors that significantly impacted the score, dropping it to 5-1. After gaining composure, she fought back to 5-4 by challenging Gauff’s forehand.
Gauff won the opening set thanks to a bad service performance from the Czech, and the drama of the protest followed soon after.
After the opening game of the second set, the players were removed from the court because one of the Extinction Rebellion T-shirt wearing protesters had glued himself to the ground.
“I just treated it like a rain delay,” Gauff told ESPN.
“The only thing which was harder was that we had to leave the court and didn’t know if it would be five minutes or an hour.”
Sabalenka is perplexed as to how she ‘got through’ the tense semifinal
Nearly 50 minutes after the previous point, the players resumed play after the demonstrators were eventually removed by police. The two players held serve throughout the second set before the match, which had been gradually becoming engrossing, suddenly erupted into further action.
Gauff broke for 5-4 but was unable to serve out, similar to the previous set, and had to exert all of her willpower to win. Sabalenka, on the other hand, was sprinkling the ball and made a number of unforced mistakes that helped her opponent.
Sabalenka had lost when she had leads at the French Open and Wimbledon this year. She had also won just one of her previous five Grand Slam semifinal matches.
Early in the second set, she threw a racquet at her team to express her annoyance, and throughout the match, her body language revealed that she was under a lot of stress.
But she showed incredible tenacity to come back and secure one of her career’s most satisfying victories. At 5-4 in the second set, Keys served to win the match, but Sabalenka won 12 straight games to change the momentum, and Keys was broken to love.
Although Sabalenka dominated the tie-break to force a deciding set, Keys maintained her calm to save two set points at 6-5. The pair engaged in a fierce power struggle in the third set, trading breaks in the seventh and eighth games to force the first-to-10 tie-break.
Sabalenka had to restore her composure after believing she had won at 7-3, as she would in a typical tie-break, in order to get to the US Open final for the first time.
“Somehow, I don’t know how, I turned around this match and it really means a lot to be in the US Open final for the first time,” she said.