Coco Gauff charges into first U.S. Open semifinal

League: Tennis

Posted on: 06 Sep, 2023 at 02:02 AM

Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

No. 6 seed Coco Gauff turned in a dominant performance in scorching heat Tuesday to qualify for her first U.S. Open semifinal, eliminating No. 20 seed Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia 6-0, 6-2 in New York.

Gauff, a 19-year-old from Florida, needed just 20 minutes to win the first set. She held Ostapenko to seven points, with the Latvian landing just four winners while making 15 unforced errors. Ostapenko won only four points on her serve, and none on any of Gauff's six second serves.

Ostapenko had more fight in the 48-minute second set, winning 78 percent of points on her serve and 53 percent on Gauff's second serve. But Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, still was bitten by the unforced errors, committing 21 against eight winners.

Gauff broke her serve three times in the second set.

"So happy," Gauff said on court after the match. "Last year, I lost in the quarterfinals stage (to Caroline Garcia of France), and I wanted to do better this year. Still have a long way, but I'm happy and ready to get back to work for the next one."

The next one will come Thursday at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York when she meets Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic. Muchova, seeded 10th, crushed No. 30 Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-0, 6-3 in a Tuesday night quarterfinal.

Gauff beat Muchova 6-3, 6-4 in the final at Mason, Ohio, last month.

Muchova said of Gauff, "Obviously she's an amazing player. She has the home crowd here. It's going to be very tough, but I want to enjoy this win and then I'll try to put up a battle against Coco."

Gauff will be making her second semifinal appearance in a Grand Slam after reaching the French Open final in 2022. Despite her rapid start on Tuesday, she said she never felt like the match was in hand against Ostapenko, who ousted World No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland to reach the quarters.

"Honestly, I didn't feel comfortable at all the whole match, even on the match points," Gauff said. "I know the game she plays. She has the ability to come back no matter the score line, so I was just really trying to get every point, trying to play every ball and it's really tough against her."

Gauff gave some credit to her defense for the win.

"You know, there's a saying in basketball that defense wins games, and in tennis that's not always the case, but today it was definitely the case," she said.

Since her loss to Sofia Kenin in the first round of Wimbledon, Gauff has won 16 of 17 matches. She took the titles in Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati in August.

Muchova wound up with a 6-0 advantage in aces and saved 10 of the 11 break points she faced en route to her first career U.S. Open semifinal. She is through to her third career Grand Slam semifinal, with her best result being a loss to Swiatek in the French Open final this summer.

Muchova, 27, is currently ranked a career-best 10th in the world.

--Field Level Media