First-time finalist Coco Gauff: I showed I can play at a top level

After beating Andrea Petkovic in straight sets at the Linz Open, reaching her first WTA Tour final, Coco Gauff hailed her rapid rise.

Teenage tennis star Cori Gauff   -  Getty Images

Coco Gauff says her run to a first WTA Tour final at the age of 15 shows she is ready to play at the top level.

Gauff needed a lucky loser spot to take her place in the main draw of the Linz Open after failing to qualify but could claim the title on Sunday following a 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Andrea Petkovic.

The American, who reached the fourth round of Wimbledon and third round at the US Open this year, will face Jelena Ostapenko after the 2017 French Open champion booked her place in the final by beating Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Gauff saved nine of the 10 break points she faced in a superb defensive display, with the teenager thrilled by her continued rise.

"This is actually the first time in my life, including juniors, that I got into something as a lucky loser, and now I'm in the final," said Gauff. "I guess every little thing counts. You never know what it could lead to.

"Last year, around this time, I was playing a juniors Grade 1 [tournament], and I lost in the quarterfinals there, in Mexico. It's crazy how much a year can make a difference in improvement.

 

"I thought this was one of the highest-level matches I played, even though it was straight sets. No game was really easy to win, I felt, for either player.

"Andrea was playing an amazing match, and she was hitting a lot of winners and put a lot of pressure on me to put the ball deep. I guess I was fighting for every point, because you never know what happens.

"Maybe after these [earlier] matches, they boosted my confidence a lot. It kind of showed I can play at this top level, and hang with these top players."

Gauff, who enjoyed her first career top-10 win against Kiki Bertens in the quarterfinals in Austria, will move into the top 100 of the WTA rankings when they are updated on Monday.