Coco Gauff and Jelena Ostapenko battled for the 2019 title in Linz, Austria.
Over the past few years on the WTA Tour, the notion of the teenage sensation making major moves appeared to have gone by the wayside.
In 2019, the young American Coco Gauff said “not so fast.”
Shooting up the rankings, the 15-year-old first made waves at Wimbledon, where she shocked five-time champ Venus Williams on her way to the fourth round. She added a third-round finish at the US Open later on, and by the fall, had cracked the world top 120. Looking to make her way into the main draw of the Linz Open in Austria, she fell in the second round of qualifying. However, she ended up getting into the tournament as a Lucky Loser and made the most of her opportunity. In the quarterfinals, she beat the top seed Kiki Bertens, then won her semifinal over Andrea Petkovic, a former member of the top 10, to reach her first career final.
Her next opponent would be 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko. Struggling with her game for more than a year to this point, the former world No. 5 reached her first final of 2019 behind some solid tennis. She didn’t drop a set until the semifinals, where she rallied from the brink against Ekaterina Alexandrova.
Playing in her first championship match on the main tour against a former Grand Slam winner, Gauff was a decided underdog—as she had been in every match over the course of the week. Displaying the poise of a veteran, though, she would go on to take the opening set, 6-3, against her more experienced opponent.
The second set marked a complete turnaround from the first for Ostapenko. Finding the range on her powerful groundstrokes, the Latvian raced through the frame, 6-1, to level the match. In the decider, Gauff quickly put that disappointment behind her to go up 5-0. The realization of being a game away from her first title appeared to have an effect on the 15-year-old as Ostapenko fought off two match points against her serve, then broke Gauff. The world No. 110 earned another match point in the next game and clinched the title when Ostapenko hit a backhand long, providing the perfect cap on a breakout season.
Ostapenko’s Linz run was by far her best of the year: It was the first tournament in 2019 where she reached at least the quarterfinals.
The final marked Gauff’s second win over a former Grand Slam champion in 2019, with the first coming against Venus Williams at Wimbledon.
Gauff became the third Lucky Loser in WTA history to win a title.