Take Five: Gauff hits doubles No. 1, Serena’s goodbye tour
Welcome to Take Five, a weekly series on USTA.com recapping five of the biggest stories from American tennis over the last week on the professional tennis circuit. Last Tuesday, Serena Williams announced she would “evolve away” from tennis shortly after competing in the US Open. On Sunday, Coco Gauff and partner Jessica Pegula showed which Americans will take the baton by winning women’s doubles at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers in Toronto.
Gauff and Pegula win doubles in Toronto, Gauff world No. 1
The 2022 National Bank Open presented by Rogers provided some stellar storylines, particularly for American women. Arguably the tournament highlight: Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula, two of the United States’ best in singles and doubles, teamed up and won the tournament – boosting Gauff to world No. 1 status in women’s doubles, and enabling Pegula to crack the doubles Top 10.
“The partnership started off rough. I think we had, like, three-first round losses,” Gauff laughed while discussing her doubles history with Pegula in a post-match press conference. “But I knew that we had good games in singles, so I knew it could transfer to doubles.”
The two began playing together at the 2021 Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open and were doubles runners-up at that years’ US Open. This year, the pair advanced to the French Open final and claimed two WTA 1000 doubles titles: February’s Qatar TotalEnergies Open, and now in Toronto.
Gauff, only 18 years old, has raised eyebrows since she finished as a runner-up in girls’ singles at the 2017 US Open. The following year, she won the girls’ singles title at Roland Garros – becoming the junior world No. 1 – and, months later, earned the girls’ doubles title at that year’s US Open, alongside compatriot Caty Mcnally.
The 6-4, 6-7(5), [10-5] victory against Florida’s Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Australian Ellen Perez bumped Gauff five spots up the doubles rankings to world No. 1 status. She is the second-youngest player to ever reach the top spot, older than only Switzerland’s Martina Hingis (who managed to do so at 17).
“Being number one is pretty cool,” Gauff said. “I have no words … I didn’t really know it was coming this week, what I had to do. But [Pegula] told me yesterday!”
The 28-year-old Pegula also gained serious doubles momentum from the Canadian win, jumping four spots to a personal-best No. 8.
Though she has still yet to win a Slam on the pro tour, Gauff has enjoyed an incredible 2022: In addition to the Parisian doubles final, she reached the French Open final in June and the Canadian Open quarterfinals last week.
Gauff’s singles finish in Canada, while strong, didn’t provide the teenager with enough ranking points to reach that division’s Top 10; instead, she matched her tournament result from the year prior, and fell to No. 12. Pegula, who fell in the singles semifinals to eventual winner Simona Halep of Romania, also dropped one spot to No. 8 in singles.
During the same press conference, Pegula emphasized her partner’s achievements – but made it clear she and Gauff were the new faces of women’s tennis, in America and across the globe.
“I’m so glad that I could help her get there today,” Pegula said. “Pretty amazing being 18 and being Number 1 in the world in doubles, I think we’re number one in the race. And top two Americans in singles, so it’s been a pretty cool little journey that we’re on together.”
Serena writes she’s “evolving” from tennis, says goodbye to Canada
It’s the beginning of the end of an era – for Serena Williams, tennis, and in many ways, the entire sports world.
Last Tuesday, Serena tweeted a “must-read” Vogue article in which she announced she planned to enter the post-tennis phase of her career following this month’s US Open: “I’m ready for what’s next,” she said in the story.
Social media buzzed with the news, which didn’t feel “real” for many until the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion lost her second-round National Bank Open match against Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic. Serena provided more details in a highly emotional on-court interview, later posted to Twitter by the Tennis Channel.
“I loved playing here, I’ve always loved playing here,” Serena said. Responding to cheers, her voice cracked as she thanked the crowd. “It’s just been so memorable, you know? Like I said in my article, I’m terrible at goodbyes, but – goodbye, Toronto!”
The 40-year-old from Compton, Calif. is next slated to play in this week’s Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, where she'll play reigning US Open winner Emma Raducanu in the first round.
Read more: Hot Shots: The world reacts to Serena’s news
Tommy Paul shaves, beats Alcaraz, rises in the rankings
New Jersey’s 25-year-old Tommy Paul has continues to burn bright: He beat world Spain’s No. 4 Carlos Alcaraz at the National Bank Open, made his first-ever Masters 1000 quarterfinal, and – as a result – reached a career-best world No. 31 in singles.
Paul saved a match point in victory against Alcaraz, and came from 7-6, 4-1 down to win.
“Him going up a break in the second, it was him maintaining his level and me dropping a little bit,” Paul told the Tennis Channel after his three-hour, 6-7(4), 7-6(7), 6-3, win over Alcaraz in the second round, his third career Top 10 win.
“Even if I were to lose that match – I had so much fun on the court today. I would’ve shook his hand and said, ‘Too good. Great match. Have a good time.’”
Paul didn’t explicitly say that a lack of facial hair helped him play better, but he shared an amusing anecdote about his mother’s insistence that he shave.
CoCo Vandeweghe snaps Bernarda Pera's winning streak to win in Concord
It's been a long road back to top-level tennis for former Top 10 player CoCo Vandeweghe after bouts with various injuries and health issues in recent years, but last week, the now-31-year-old won her biggest career title in six years at the WTA 125 Series event in Concord, Mass. WTA 125s are the women's equivalent of the ATP Challenger Tour.
To do so, she had to cool off red-hot compatriot Bernarda Pera, who, after winning back-to-back titles on European clay in Budapest, Hungary and Hamburg, Germany, came back stateside and streched her winning streak to 16 straight matches to reach the final. In addition to a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 win against Pera, Vandeweghe also knocked off No. 1 seed Clara Tauson in the quarterfinals, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, and former Top 20 player in Wang Qiang in the semifinals, 6-4, 6-3.
Vandeweghe also teamed up with Varvara Flink to win her first doubles title since the 2018 US Open.
Wheelchair shines in Salem, Ore.
The Pacific Northwest Sectional Championships were a happy haunt for U.S. wheelchair players last week as Conner Stroud, Jason Keatseangsilp and Maylee Phelps all took home trophies. Stroud swept the singles and doubles titles, partnership Keatseangsilp in the latter, while Phelps, who hails from Portland, won the women's singles title at her home event.
Stroud, seeded No. 3, beat top seed Keatseangsilp in the semifinals before going on to a three-set victory over No. 2 seed Guy Sasson of Israel for his first singles title of 2022 and 18th of his career. Unseeded Phelps, still just 15 and the No. 2 junior in the world, knocked off top seed Anne-Marie Dolinar of Canada from a set down in the semifinals en route to winning her third career pro title.
The win is Keatseangsilp's third doubles title on the year, and first since he was announced as one of two wild cards for next month's US Open Wheelchair Championships presented by Deloitte. The 27-year-old from Tuscon, Ariz. will be making his Grand Slam debut.
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