ARYNA Sabalenka fought back tears in her on-court interview after losing yesterday’s US Open final.
The Belarusian had been in front against Coco Gauff on Arthur Ashe Stadium after blasting her way to a 6-2 first set lead.
Aryna Sabalenka fought through tears during her on-court interviewCredit: Getty
Sabalenka, 25, tried to smile through her anguishCredit: Rex
But the match slipped away from the 25-year-old, who leaked unforced errors as Gauff seemingly began to cover every inch of the court.
After her 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 defeat, Sabalenka made sure to thank her team in her on-court interview… before joking they’d all be “fired” for her defeat.
Laughing deliriously, this year’s Australian Open champion said: “Thank you guys.
“They know they will be fired after this tournament.
“No, as always we will come back stronger, right? Thank you for everything you do for me – I really appreciate it and I love you guys.”
Following Iga Swiatek’s defeat to Jelena Ostapenko in the round of 16 it was confirmed that Sabalenka would become the new world No1 when the WTA rankings are updated on Monday.
When this was pointed out during her runner-up interview last night, Sabalenka received a roar from the crowd.
Asked what she’s most proud of from this year, she initially fought back tears as she said: “I don’t know.”
This prompted another roar from the 24,000 inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
And Sabalenka, laughing through her tears, joked: “You guys could have supported like this during the match!”
She then added: “I’m most proud that I was able to, most of the time, handle my emotions pretty well and focus on myself, not on the ranking. I think this is the best thing about this year.”
Gauff, 19, thrilled the electric Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd with her victory, but also had complimentary words for her beaten opponent.
The new grand slam champion, who will move up to No3 in the WTA rankings tomorrow, said: “I knew if I didn’t give it my all, I had no shot at winning.”
She then defiantly continued: “I want to say thank you to the people who didn’t believe in me.
“To those who thought they were putting water on my fire, you were actually putting gas on it – I’m burning so bright right now.”
Gauff has been on an incredible run on North American hard courts this summer.
Following her disappointing first round defeat to Sofia Kenin at Wimbledon she has strung together a remarkable run of 18 wins in 19 matches – only losing to doubles partner Jessica Pegula in Canada.
In this time she has won titles in Washington, Cincinnati and now New York – and she has done so with Brad Gilbert in her corner.
Gauff recruited the former coach of the likes of Andre Agassi, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick this summer, with incredible results following.
After her triumph, Gilbert was heard by the huge TV audience telling Gauff: “I’m so f***ing proud of you.”
Coco Gauff celebrates her incredible winCredit: Rex
The 19-year-old became America’s latest grand slam championCredit: Splash