On Tuesday, Coco Gauff easily defeated Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets, adding to her string of dominant wins at the US Open.
The player ranked No. 6 did not drop any games in the first set and went on to win convincingly with a score of 6-0 6-2, securing her first ever spot in the US Open semifinals.
As several of the leading contenders in the women’s competition have been eliminated, Gauff stands as one of the remaining top choices.
Gauff, 19, will now face either Sorana Cîrstea or this year’s French Open runner-up Karolína Muchová in the next round.
“I am filled with joy,” Gauff expressed in her post-match interview following her victory. “Last year, I was defeated in the quarterfinals. I am elated and eager to continue working towards the next one.”
The American was met with a difficult obstacle in the form of a resurgent Ostapenko, who had recently defeated defending champion Iga Świątek in the previous round.
However, despite the pressure of playing in front of a home audience, Gauff remained composed and took control over her opponent, winning the first set in a quick 20 minutes.
Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open winner, entered the second set with a more aggressive approach, securing two games to prevent a complete shutout.
Ultimately, the Latvian who was feeling frustrated could not keep up with Gauff, and was penalized for repeatedly making mistakes.
Although the outcome may seem impressive on paper, Gauff still had to put in effort to secure her victory.
Ostapenko successfully defended against two match points while Gauff attempted to secure the win, but Gauff ultimately sealed her 10th consecutive victory with a precise forehand shot.
To be honest, I was not comfortable at all during the match, even when it came to the match points,” Gauff stated.
“I am familiar with [Ostapenko]’s style of play. She has a knack for making a comeback regardless of the current score, so I was determined to earn every point and make sure every ball landed in play.”
“It was challenging to play against her because I couldn’t be too aggressive. I did my best to be aggressive whenever possible, but most of the time I focused on hitting deep shots. She’s a formidable opponent and she had an impressive tournament.”
After her win, Gauff becomes the first American teen to make it to the US Open semi-finals since Serena Williams did in 2001.
This marks only the second occasion in Gauff’s career where she has reached the semifinal round of a major tournament. The previous time was at the 2022 French Open, where she was ultimately defeated in the final by Świątek.
Ostapenko’s difficulties with scheduling.
Following her win over Świątek in the previous round, Ostapenko expressed dissatisfaction with the limited time she had to rest before facing Gauff in her next match.
Ostapenko explained to reporters that if she plays a late-night match, she will likely have to play at the same time or later the following day due to limited recovery time. She also acknowledged that her opponent had a more favorable schedule, as they played earlier in the day compared to her night session match.
The 26-year-old stated that she was certain she would be competing against Gauff during the evening session.
Ostapenko explained that when she inquired the previous day, she was confident that she would play during the night session because that was the information she was given. However, when the schedule was released, she noticed that she was scheduled for the first match and found it to be an unexpected choice.
“I was taken aback when I saw the schedule, and not in a positive way.”
CNN has contacted the US Tennis Association regarding Ostapenko’s remarks, but has not yet received a response as of the time of publication.
Taking advantage of the chance
Gauff has a great chance at Flushing Meadows now.
On Monday, the top seed Świątek, the third seed Jessica Pegula, and the fifth seed Ons Jabeur were all eliminated from the tournament. This leaves the second seed Aryna Sabalenka and American player Coco Gauff as the only remaining top seeds in the women’s draw.
With several impressive wins already in New York, Gauff may have her greatest opportunity yet to secure her first grand slam championship.
The top seed left in the draw, Sabalenka, will face rising Chinese star Zheng Qinwen – who is enjoying a career best run at a grand slam after comfortably upsetting last year’s finalist Jabeur in straight sets in the round-of-16 – in the quarterfinals.
Świątek’s early exit means Sabalenka will become the new world No. 1 on Monday, the first time in her career she has held the top spot in the rankings, with her ascension coming after a remarkable year in which she won three titles, including her first grand slam at the Australian Open.
Sabalenka states that she is currently performing exceptionally well in tennis, but acknowledges that there are always areas for improvement. She is preparing for a challenging match against Zheng.
“We practiced with her a couple of times,” she told reporters after Monday’s win over Daria Kasatkina. “She’s playing really great tennis. [Her] forehand is really heavy, I would say backhand as well. Serving well. Moving well.
She seems to be playing without any fear of losing, which is allowing her to perform at her peak. She displayed excellent tennis skills against Ons. Although I have not seen her previous matches, it is clear that she is currently playing at a high level.
The most challenging aspect is that she is moving effectively and hitting powerful shots. I need to prepare myself both physically and mentally for the fact that she will likely make some winning shots against me during the match.
“I need to prioritize my own performance over hers. If I bring my best tennis, I have a chance to win this match.”
Matias Grez from CNN provided additional information for this report.