Coco Gauff qualifies for WTA Finals in Fort Worth
Make it two: Coco Gauff will join Jessica Pegula at the season-ending WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas in two weeks. The 18-year-old American officially qualified for the year-end championships on Wednesday thanks to Liudmila Samsonova's victory over Aryna Sabalenka in the second round of the Guadalajara Open Akron.
Entering Wednesday, Gauff would've mathematically clinched her berth with either a defeat for Sabalenka or her own victory. She ultimately had both: Later in the day, she christened her achievement in style with a 7-6(1), 6-3 win over Italy's Elisabetta Cocciaretto.
"I wasn't really thinking about it, to be honest, before the match, but I'm excited to join Jess ... I'm just happy I was able to do it here," Gauff said after her win. "I'm just happy that I could do 'buy one, get one free,' 2-for-1."
Gauff, who'll be 18 years and 239 days old at the end of the WTA Finals, is the youngest player to qualify for the event since 2005, when Maria Sharapova reached the semifinals at 18 years and 208 days. Gauff is also the youngest American to play the Finals since Lindsay Davenport finished as runner-up in 1994.
Gauff qualified Wednesday alongside France's Caroline Garcia, and there are still three spots up for grabs in the season-ending elite eight that'll be decided based on this week's results. World No. 1 Iga Swiatek, and Wimbledon and US Open finalist Ons Jabeur, were already in the Fort Worth field with Pegula when this week began, and Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins is in contention for a place in singles based on her performance in Guadalajara.
Nicole Melichar-Martinez and her Australian partner Ellen Perez currently occupy the No. 8 position in the doubles race, and will qualify unless Australian Open runners-up Beatriz Haddad Maia and Anna Danilina reach the final in Guadalajara.
En route to her history-making season, Gauff reached her first Grand Slam singles final at Roland Garros, and two further semifinals at the WTA 250 Adelaide International and WTA 500 Bett1Open on grass in Berlin. She reached five further quarterfinals, the biggest of which came at the US Open, along with two at WTA 1000 events in Doha and Toronto.
Gauff's last eight appearance in New York in September propelled her into the Top 10 for the first time in her career, and she peaked in the singles rankings at No. 7 on Oct. 17. Thanks to her success alongside Pegula, Gauff ascended to the world No. 1 doubles ranking on Aug. 15, becoming the second-youngest player in history to top the WTA doubles rankings.
Gauff's qualification comes a week after Pegula secured her own singles qualification, and the pair's qualification in doubles. They will be the first Americans to feature at the WTA Finals in both events since Serena and Venus Williams in 2009.