NEW YORK (AP) — As a teary Coco Gauff congratulated her opponents on their women’s doubles title at the U.S. Open, she demonstrated the age gap that had been on the court.
Sam Stosur, she revealed, was the first pro tennis player to give her an autograph.
“Little bit of a scary thought,” the 37-year-old Stosur said.
Stosur wouldn’t let the 17-year-old Gauff get her first Grand Slam title.
Stosur and Zhang Shuai beat Gauff and Caty McNally 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 at Flushing Meadows on Sunday, winning their second major doubles title together and denying the teenagers their first.
“For us, this was our second Grand Slam final together. I’ve been in a few more,” Stosur said. “It’s kind of like, ‘All right, I’ve done this a few more times than you, so I’ve got to try to use everything I’ve got.’”
Gauff was just a year old when Stosur won her first U.S. Open title, the women’s doubles championship with Lisa Raymond in 2005. The Australian won her biggest singles title in Flushing Meadows in 2011, knocking off Serena Williams in the final.
Gauff and McNally, 19, were trying to join Emma Raducanu as women’s champions this week. The 18-year-old from Britain beat 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez on Saturday for the singles title.
The No. 11-seeded Americans fell just short of adding this U.S. Open doubles title to the juniors one they won together in 2018.
“I know that we’ll be Grand Slam champions eventually,” Gauff said.
It was the 11th straight victory for Stosur and Zhang, who also won in Cincinnati before the U.S. Open. They had to separate for a time while Zhang paired with Chinese players before the Olympics but see no reason to stop now.
“We will for sure play together more, yeah,” said Zhang, 32.
The first set swung suddenly when McNally was serving and a point away from a 4-all tie. Zhang perfectly placed a lob over Gauff’s head into the shaded back edge of the court during a run of five straight points to steal the game, and they held in the next one to take the set.
Gauff and McNally rallied to tie the match and it was even deep into the third set before Stosur and Zhang broke McNally again for a 5-3 lead before Stosur served out the match. She agreed that her opponents will have another chance.
“They just play fearless. Credit to them,” Stosur said. “I think they’re a really great team. Again, no doubt they’re going to be back in situations like this, challenging for titles.
“Not just yet,” she added with a smile. “Not today.”
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