Coco Gauff exceeds her 2022 goals as she qualifies for WTA Finals

Coco Gauff has become the youngest player since Maria Sharapova to qualify for the WTA Finals in singles.

The 18-year-old world number seven has achieved the rare feat of reaching the year-end tournament in both singles and doubles after an excellent season, which included reaching her first grand slam final at the French Open.

Gauff, who defeated Elisabetta Cocciaretto 7-6 (1) 6-3 to reach the third round of the Guadalajara Open, will be the youngest participant since Sharapova in 2005 and the youngest American since Lindsay Davenport 28 years ago.

She said: “It means a lot. Honestly I didn’t think about it until I realised how close I was and I think I went maybe a little bit nervous in the end but I’m super excited to be playing in the WTA Finals, especially in the USA, and qualifying in singles and doubles is definitely a good achievement.

“I didn’t expect that when I set my goals at the beginning of the year. I’m really happy and I hope I can do a good performance there.”

Gauff joins Iga Swiatek, Ons Jabeur, her doubles partner Jessica Pegula and Caroline Garcia, who also qualified on Wednesday evening, in the eight-woman field for the WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas beginning on October 31.

This season, Gauff reached her first Grand Slam singles final, at Roland Garros, and two further semifinals at the WTA 250 Adelaide International and WTA 500 Bett1Open (Berlin).

She boosted her qualification hopes further by reaching the quarterfinals at the WTA 1000 Qatar TotalEnergies Open (Doha) and then across North America at WTA 500 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic (San Jose), WTA 1000 National Bank Open presented by Rogers (Toronto), the US Open and WTA 500 San Diego Open.

Gauff’s last eight appearance in New York in September propelled her into the Top 10 for the first time in her career, and she peaked in the rankings at No.7 on Oct. 17.

Gauff, along with Pegula, ascended to the World No.1 doubles ranking on Aug. 15, where she became the second-youngest player in history.

The Guadalajara Open is the final qualifying tournament and seven women remain in contention for the last three spots.

Top seed Paula Badosa, a semi-finalist at the WTA Finals last year, saw her qualification hopes end when she retired through illness after losing the first set 6-2 against Victoria Azarenka.

Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, beaten 2-6 6-3 7-6 (8) by Pegula, is also out of the race along with Belinda Bencic and Liudmila Samsonova, who defeated second seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-4 2-6 6-2 but saw other results go against her.

Sabalenka could yet qualify, while Veronika Kudermetova, Madison Keys, Danielle Collins and Jelena Ostapenko all kept their hopes alive with victories.