Coco Gauff wins a title and surges ahead in close Olympic qualifying race

Coco Gauff
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Coco Gauff is in Olympic qualifying position today. But what matters is where she’ll be in three weeks.

Gauff, the 17-year-old American, won a lower-level WTA tournament in Parma, Italy, on Saturday, her second tour title. By reaching the final, she surged past Madison Keys, Jessica Pegula and Alison Riske in a tight race for the fourth and final U.S. Olympic women’s singles spot.

Sofia Kenin and Serena Williams already locked up the first two spots on the team, which is determined by world rankings after the French Open, which starts a week from Sunday. Jennifer Brady has nearly mathematically clinched the third.

Gauff’s lead for the fourth is small — less than 200 points — but significant. A long shot to qualify for Tokyo in 2020, she used the postponement to rocket up the rankings. More on that journey here.

As it stands, Gauff will qualify for the Tokyo Games if none of Keys, Pegula or Riske make the fourth round of the French Open. If Gauff loses in the third round in Paris, then one of the other three must make the quarterfinals to pass Gauff. There are other scenarios, but those are the simplest.

Pegula, however, can jumble that and even overtake Gauff at the last pre-French Open event next week in Strasbourg, where she is the second-highest-ranked player in the field. Gauff, Keys and Riske aren’t entered in that tune-up.

Gauff will be seeded at a Grand Slam for the first time at the French Open, becoming the youngest women’s singles seed at a Slam since Czech Nicole Vaidisova in 2006.

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