How Coco Gauff’s brilliant run ahead of the US Open reignited the hopes of American tennis

The eyes of the tennis world and trophy-hungry American sports fans will be on Coco Gauff, who heads to the US Open next week.

The 19-year-old American hopeful from Delray Beach, Fla. is peaking just in time for the final Grand Slam tournament of the year and hoping for the first major title of her promising career.

Gauff celebrates another breakthrough at her title after winning the Cincinnati Open on Sunday, defeating Czech Karolína Muchová 6-3, 6-4 in the final. It was Gauff's first WTA 1000 title and her third of the season after victories in Washington DC and Auckland.

“That's incredible,” said Gauff after the game. “Especially after everything I went through earlier in the summer. I'm just happy to be here. I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I've spent many nights alone crying and trying to figure it out and I still have a lot to figure out, but I thank him for protecting me.”

To get there, Gauff had to pull off a tough win over No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the semifinals, 7-6(2) 3-6 6-4.

Coco Gauff of the United States hits a shot at Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic during the women's singles final of the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament on Sunday, August 20, 2023, in Mason, Ohio.
Coco Gauff's straight-set win in the Cincinnati final gave the 19-year-old her third title of the season on her way to Queens.

In seven previous encounters with the world's best player, most recently in this year's quarterfinals of the French Open, Gauff had not won a single set.

After some tussles in the first half of 2023 that seemed to halt the advance of what was once a phenomenon in the sport, Gauff has put on an impressive run in the tournaments leading up to the Open. In early August, she won the Citi DC Open and claimed her first WTA 500 title by defeating No. 8 Maria Sakkari 6-2, 6-3 in the final and making it to the quarterfinals of the top-flight Canadian Open before she was defeated by American Jessica Pegula against her teammate.

With her latest trophy, Gauff became the first teenager to win five career titles since Caroline Wozniacki in 2009 and has moved up to No. 6 in the world rankings (she peaked at No. 4 in October 2022).

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz dominate the men's race as they proved again on Sunday in a thrilling Cincinnati Open final in which Djokovic won 5-7 7-6(7) 7-6(4) befitting an American's chances The man blazing a path to a major title appears as slim as ever.

This year's Open marks the 20th anniversary of 21-year-old Andy Roddick's victory over Juan Carlos Ferrero in what remains the youngest major singles title by an American.

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain and Novak Djokovic of Serbia pose with their trophies after the Western & Southern Open final match at the Lindner Family Tennis Center on August 20, 2023 in Mason, Ohio.
Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic have been so dominant in the men that it's far from certain that the US men's title drought at the US Open will enter a third decade.
Getty Images

Frances Tiafoe failed to bolster his run to last year's US Open semi-finals at this summer's hard court tournament and Taylor Fritz hasn't done much to offset a series of disappointments at recent Majors (he hasn't since last Didn't make it past the third round). Wimbledon of the year and only twice in 28 career attempts).

That's the hope for Gauff and the new energy that will bring her to New York in a week.

She drew attention when she reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2019 at the age of just 15. In the Star win in the first round, she defeated Venus Williams, one of the players She has named as her greatest inspirations – who, by the way, received a wildcard for participation in the US Open at the age of 43.

Since then, everyone was curious to see when the young talent would really take off.

At last year's US Open, Gauff lost to France's Caroline Garcia in the quarterfinals. That year she reached the round of 16 of the Australian Open and the quarterfinals of Roland Garros.

However, her worst and most worrying performance came at Wimbledon, where she was knocked out by Sofia Kenin in the first round.

US player Coco Gauff reacts after missing a point against US player Sofia Kenin during their women's singles tennis match on day one of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London July 3, 2023 has.
After losing the first round at Wimbledon, Gauff has bounced back with 11 wins in her last 12 games.
AFP via Getty Images

Gauff's upward trend since her brief stint in London – including wins in 11 of her last 12 games – coincides with her new association with veteran coach Brad Gilbert, who mentored Andre Agassi and also helped Roddick win the 2003 US Open and appear in the final led Wimbledon 2004.

This summer was a disappointment for Stars and Stripes fans as the USA women's national team failed to win the World Cup.

If Gauff carries on like this, her visit to Flushing could play out differently – and end with renewed fame and a flag raised.

Today's back

The back cover of the New York Post, August 22, 2023
New York Post

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Next stop: Manila

The US men's national basketball team went undefeated in their five preseason games ahead of the FIBA ​​World Championship, which begins this Friday.

Greece's Thanasis Antetokounmpo (L) guards USA's Anthony Edwards during the Basketball Showcase friendly match between USA and Greece at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi August 18, 2023.
Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards has emerged as the main offensive engine for Team USA's World Championship squad.
AFP via Getty Images

Before Team USA begins their first round against New Zealand in Manila, Philippines this Saturday at 8:40 a.m. ET (who share hosting duties with Japan and Indonesia), let's take a look at some of the good and bad qualities found in they obviously are exhibition games.

• 3-point shooting in the works: The US got off to a hot start, defeating Puerto Rico 117-74 with a 56.5 percent shot from the field. However, her accuracy behind the shorter 3-point line was an issue.

In the first game, they had a mere 22.2 percent (6-27) from a 3-point ranger, and in Game 2 the situation didn't improve much when they shot from range 9-33 (27 percent). . But after we beat Slovenia (without Luka Doncic, who was already resting) by 30 points, it wasn't time to sound the alarm.

But the tide turned in the third game, an unexpectedly narrow 98-88 victory over leaders Spain in which the Americans scored 55.6 percent from three goals, led by a combined 7-on-7 performance by Jalen Brunson of the Knicks and the Nets' Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson.

U.S. coach Steve Kerr (L) greets USA's Jalen Brunson during the Basketball Showcase friendly match between the U.S. and Greece at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi August 18, 2023.
Steve Kerr has praised the “natural” leadership skills Jalen Brunson has shown with Team USA this summer.
AFP via Getty Images

The improvement carried over into two more victories, with the US shooting 42.3 percent from behind against Greece (a 108-86 win) and 44.8 percent against Germany (a 99-91 win) on Sunday.

• This is Anthony Edwards' team. The Timberwolves star was given the keys to attacking by trainer Steve Kerr and so far he has delivered. Over the five Showcase games, Edwards averaged 18.8 points with a 50 percent shot rate (not bad for a guard!) and two steals. Against Germany, Edwards helped the US move from a 16-point deficit to a whopping 34 points, shooting 11 of 21 from the field and 4 of 8 from 3 points.

• New York is important. The Knicks and Nets each have two players in the roster, and while Brunson and Bridges started every game, Josh Hart and Johnson came on from the bench.

That won't earn either team an NBA postseason invite, but it does add credibility to the rosters each club has put together.

Bridges and Johnson even cut their off-season vacation to play for Team USA.

“Yes, [it’s going to be] It was so much fun,” Bridges told The Post's Brian Lewis ahead of the start of the Showcase games. “Honestly, it's just a blessing to be invited and to be able to go. Of course it shortens the off-season, but I mean it's Team USA. That's definitely something I'd rather shorten it for. So definitely excited, excited [for] the teammates and coaches that will be out there just ready to win.”

Mikal Bridges No. 5 of Senior National Team plays defense during FIBA ​​World Cup 2023 against Germany National Team at Etihad Arena on August 20, 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Mikal Bridges was a staple of Kerr's starting lineup in Team USA's pre-World Cup schedule.
NBAE via Getty Images

For his part, Brunson has shown that his rise to stardom last season was no mirage.

“I think Jalen is such a natural leader,” Kerr told reporters. “Because he's a point guard, he immediately comes to mind. He's the one leading the “1, 2, 3 USA” chant. For some people it just comes naturally.”

It hurts so good

Ahead of the 2023 season, several faces and names have been highlighted to get football fans excited for the fall pastime.

From cellphone ads starring Josh Allen to NFL Films' “Hard Knocks” starring the Jets and Aaron Rodgers, there aren't many questions about which stars to keep an eye on.

Then there's Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, taking his spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the 2023 football preview.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) takes to the field prior to an NFL preseason football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Saturday, August 12, 2023.
Jalen Hurts threw for 3,701 yards and 22 touchdowns last season and led the Eagles to a 14-1 record in his 15 starts.

After a landmark season leading Philly to the Super Bowl, some may be wondering if the 25-year-old SI really is “Philly's new prince.”

For Philly, he is that and more.

The quarterback has something he described it as a “starving” appetite for a Super Bowl title and seems to have shown a commitment to improvement since at least his college days.

He's the gentle leader of the Eagles who appears to be wise beyond his years, saying “either you win or you lose” after the 38-35 Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs before revising himself and proclaiming: “Either you win or you learn.”

Hurts' dedication to the task at hand – he twice turned down a role on Quarterback to avoid outside noise – has made him a role model for the city.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) throws during the NFC Divisional Playoff game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field on January 21, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Trying to make Jalen Hurt uncomfortable will be a focus of the Giants' defense for years to come.
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“That time will come” Hurts said participating in the Netflix series. “There is much to tell about the journey and there is still much to tell that will one day be told and the time will come.”

If last year was any indication, it could be quite the story.

Hurts played bravely in that Super Bowl loss, attacking the field (27-38 for 304 yards) despite sustaining a sprained right shoulder. He ran for 70 yards and three touchdowns as the team leader, but also lost a fumble.

He also led the Eagles 8-0 early in the season, putting them at the forefront of the Super Bowl discussion. Two of his three regular-season losses came while he was inactive due to a shoulder injury.

The Giants will have hurts twice a year for the foreseeable future — he signed a five-year, $255 million contract extension this offseason — or more if they meet the Eagles en route to the NFC title, as they did on found out the hard way in last season's 38-7 playoff loss.

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