After graduating from online highschool, Coco Gauff is in a recent phase of her tennis profession, and he or she is marking the occasion on the French Open in her favorite city.
She has long had precocious power and speed, which she underscored by reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon at age 15. Three years later, she is twiddling with less exuberance and more patience. And on Tuesday, on the identical Philippe Chatrier Court where she lost her cool a yr ago amid errors and clear frustration, she kept it together impressively, defeating Sloane Stephens, 7-5, 6-2, to achieve her first Grand Slam singles semifinal.
Gauff, 18, and seeded No. 18, will face Martina Trevisan, an unseeded Italian, who may even be playing in her first major semifinal. Trevisan defeated Seventeenth-seeded Leylah Fernandez, 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-3, on Tuesday.
“I feel so glad without delay; words cannot explain,” Gauff said in her on-court interview. “Last yr within the quarterfinals was a tricky loss for me, and I believe that match really made me stronger, to higher prepare for moments like today and the moments I’ll face in the subsequent round.”
A yr ago, Gauff faced Barbora Krejcikova, a then-unseeded doubles specialist, within the quarterfinals at Roland Garros and lost, 7-6 (6), 6-3. She didn’t convert five set points within the opening set, made unforced errors by the bunch and uncharacteristically destroyed her racket with three offended blows to the red clay as she fell behind within the second set.
Krejcikova went on to win the title, and Gauff needed to work through her regrets: attempting to separate the player from the person, an approach she shared with the group after her victory over Stephens.
“I think in myself, but I believe once I was young, like even last yr, I used to be form of too focused on trying to satisfy other people’s expectations,” she said. “I believe it is best to just enjoy life. I do know irrespective of how good or bad my profession is, I believe I’m an ideal person.”
Gauff, who’s from Delray Beach, Fla., has long been identified as a possible superstar, and with good reason. At 13, she was the youngest U.S. Open girls’ singles finalist in history. She won the French Open girls’ title at age 14, a yr before her breakthrough run in 2019 as a qualifier at Wimbledon, where she defeated certainly one of her role models, Venus Williams, in her first main-draw match on the All England Club.
Unlike some teen prodigies, Gauff didn’t soar to the highest of girls’s tennis in a rush. Her progress has not been linear, but she is in recent territory now in the ultimate 4 of the French Open on a gritty surface that perhaps suits her best.
She will extend points like few players in the sport together with her quickness and defensive skills, and may also finish them together with her terrific two-handed backhand and increasingly together with her forehand, long her weaker wing. She was removed from perfect against Stephens, making 18 winners to 23 unforced errors, including six double faults. But she played the critical points higher, rarely going for a winner from a compromised position. As a substitute, she patiently worked her method to the opening while the unseeded Stephens struggled to keep up her consistency, mixing forehand winners with premature mistakes and several other gaffes at the online.
Stephens, a former U.S. Open champion, has had great success on clay, reaching the French Open final in 2018, where she lost to Simona Halep. But she had not won a clay-court match this season before arriving unseeded at Roland Garros.
“I’d have liked to play higher today, but that doesn’t take anything away from the work she has put in obviously to achieve this point,” Stephens said of Gauff.
Stephens, 29, is now based within the Boston area, but she was long based in South Florida, like Gauff and her family, and knew them well enough to attend Gauff’s tenth birthday celebration. She has long been a job model for Gauff, and he or she defeated her within the second round of the U.S. Open last yr of their only previous meeting on tour.
“I’m glad today was different,” Gauff said. “Truthfully, I just told myself to remain mentally there. I knew there have been some shots I probably must have made and a few shots she gets within the court that probably no other player gets within the court.”