Coco Gauff to rise to world No. 1 in doubles following Toronto triumph
On Monday, American teenager Coco Gauff will be on top of the world in doubles after she and Jessica Pegula teamed for a 6-4, 6-7(5), [10-5] triumph over fellow American Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Aussie Ellen Perez in the final of the National Bank Open presented by Rogers in Toronto.
Gauff started the week ranked No. 6 in the world in doubles, and will supplant Belgium's Elise Mertens in the top spot next week. Gauff, at 18 years and 154 days, is the second-youngest player in the history of the WTA doubles rankings to reach world No. 1 since the WTA doubles rankings were introduced on Sept. 10, 1984. Only Martina Hingis (17 years, 251 days) was younger. Gauff is also the 11th American to hold the No. 1 ranking in doubles all-time.
"I have no words. I didn't really know it was coming this week and what I had to do. But [Pegula] told me yesterday," Gauff said after the match. "It didn't make me more nervous though. I think if it was singles, I would have been more nervous.
"As a kid, I'm going to be honest with you, I didn't even know there was separate rankings for singles and doubles. When I got on tour and when I realized I could do well in doubles ... Who wouldn't want to be No. 1 in anything? I would say when I got on tour and started doing well in doubles and my ranking started going up, I realized that No. 1 was possible."
YOUNGEST WTA DOUBLES NO. 1s
Martina Hingis 17 years, 251 days
Coco Gauff 18 years, 154 days
Anna Kournikova 18 years, 168 days
Kim Clijsters 20 years, 57 days
Natasha Zvereva 20 years, 174 days
Gauff and Pegula caputed their second title as a pair in their third appearance in a final. Their first win came in February at the Qatar Total Open in Doha, also a WTA 1000 event, and they were runners-up at Roland Garros in June to France's Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic.
Since teaming up at the start of 2021, Gauff and Pegula are 14-6 as a pair, and were seeded No. 3 at the WTA 1000 event in Canada.
Their straight-sets triumph was not without adversity: Melichar-Martinez and Perez sprinted out to a 3-0 lead in the first set by winning 12 of the first 16 points. From 4-2 down, having retrieved one break back earlier, Gauff and Pegula won four straight games. The second set went with serve throughout, but it saved some of its best drama for last: With Perez serving, the American-Aussie pair saved three championship points in the 10th game, and three more went by on Melichar-Martinez's serve ahead of the tiebreak.
In the match tiebreak, the all-American duo put the missed opportunities behind them to deliver. They won six of the first eight points, and the last four.
ROAD TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP - COCO GAUFF & JESSICA PEGULA
Round 1: Bye
Round 2: def. Marie Bouzkova (CZE)/Laura Siegemund (GER) - walkover
Quaterfinals: def.  Desirae Krawczyk (USA)/Demi Schuurs (NED) - 6-3, 2-6, [10-3]
Semifinals: def. Madison Keys (USA)/Sania Mirza (IND) - 7-5, 7-5
Final: def. Nicole Melichar-Martinez (USA)/Ellen Perez (AUS) - 6-4, 6-7(5), [10-5]
The win is Gauff's fifth career WTA doubles title and Pegula's fourth, as well as her second in as many weeks. Last week at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., Pegula won the title alongside Erin Routliffe of New Zealand. She, too, will break new ground in the doubles rankings next week with her Top 10 debut.
The pair also had successful singles efforts at the WTA 1000 event: Gauff reached the quarterfinals, before losing to eventual singles champion Simona Halep, while Pegula was beaten by Halep in the semifinals.
"I'm so glad that I could help her get there today," Pegula said. "Pretty amazing being 18 and being No. 1 in the world in doubles. We're I think No. 1 in the Race and [the] top two Americans in singles. It's been pretty cool little journey that we're on together, even though I'm 10 years older. It's been awesome. It's been really cool. It's been super exciting."