Coco Gauff wins second career WTA title and closes in on US Olympic team spot

Coco Gauff won her second WTA title with a dominant victory over Wang Qiang at the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma on Saturday.

The 17-year-old has hit form on the clay this season and she eased to a 6-1, 6-3 success against China’s Wang in just 74 minutes to add to the maiden title she won in Linz in 2019.

She won more than three-quarters of her first-service points and fended off each of the four break points she faced against the 48th-ranked Wang.

Gauff is the fifth teenager to win a singles title on the WTA tour already this season and she will hit a career-high ranking of No 25 on Monday, meaning she will be seeded for the French Open – and the youngest women’s singles seed at any major tournament since Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic in 2006.

She has won 20 of her last 26 matches on tour. In contrast, she won 21 matches in the whole of 2019 and 2020 combined.

Later on Saturday, Gauff partnered with fellow American Caty McNally to win the doubles final, 6-3, 6-2, over Darija Jurak and Andreja Klepac. With that win, Gauff became the youngest player to complete a singles-doubles sweep at a single event in nearly 17 years, since Maria Sharapova won both titles in Birmingham in 2004. That was just 92 days after Gauff was born.

Gauff’s triumph on Saturday also lifted her past Madison Keys, Jessica Pegula and Alison Riske in the tight race for the fourth and final spot on the US Olympic women’s singles team for Tokyo, which is determined by world rankings after the French Open.

Sofia Kenin and Serena Williams have already clinched their spots on the US team with Jennifer Brady having all but mathematically sewn up the third, leaving Gauff, Keys, Pegula and Riske in a dog-fight for the fourth.

If none of Keys, Pegula or Riske make the fourth round at Roland Garros, which starts a week from Sunday, then Gauff will qualify for the Olympic team. The other permutations get more complex, but Gauff’s lead of about 200 rankings points gives her inside track.