Caroline Garcia, 28, tops Coco Gauff at US Open to reach first Grand Slam semifinal; face Ons Jabeur next – ESPN

Caroline Garcia, 28, tops Coco Gauff at US Open to reach first Grand Slam semifinal;  face Ons Jabeur next - ESPN

NEW YORK — Carolina Garcia never really let go Coco Gauff — or the crowd — get fully engaged in their US Open quarterfinal Tuesday night.

Early on, Garcia played high-level tennis and landed shots where she wanted, sometimes right at Gauff’s feet, sometimes well out of reach. In contrast to the early success that Gauff, still only 18, experienced, it has been a long journey for Garcia, who is now playing in the first Grand Slam semifinal of her career at the age of 28.

The 17th-seeded Garcia took control at the start and never let up in a 6-3, 6-4 victory over the 12th-seeded Gauff at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“I just go for my shots,” Garcia said, “even when I’m stressed.”

She had lost both of her two previous matches against Gauff, who was the runner-up at the French Open in June, but was by far the better player this time around.

“Her level was great and I knew it was going to be great coming in and I feel like I didn’t play at the level I needed to win today — but overall I’m very proud of myself for this tournament. ,” Gauff said. “But I’m hungry for more, so maybe next year.”

Garcia, who is from France, has not dropped a set at Flushing Meadows so far this year and extended her winning streak to 13 matches in total, solidifying her status as someone playing as well as anyone in women’s tennis at the moment.

She finished last season in 74th place, but is now projected to rise into the top 10 next week.

“The last two months,” Garcia said, “I feel healthy again.”

She will face a Wimbledon runner-up Our Jabeur of Tunisia on Thursday with a place in the final at stake.

“I’m looking forward to the next challenge and what I can achieve,” Garcia said.

Jabeur became the first woman representing an African nation to make the semifinals at the US Open during the professional era with a 6–4, 7–6 (4) victory over the player who won. Serena Williams in the third round, Ajla Tomljanovic.

Jabeur said her run to the title match at the All England Club allowed her to “believe more in myself” and realize, “I had it in me that I can win a Grand Slam.”

Tomljanovic exchanged a long hug at the net with Jabeur, who is a close friend, after the match.

“Just trying to do my job and hopefully I inspire more and more generations from Africa,” Jabeur said. “It really means a lot to me.”

In the Garcia vs. Gauff match, it was 4-0 just 17 minutes in as spectators continued to register. Overall, there was less loud support for Gauff than she had heard in her previous win in Ashe.

During that fairly perfect start, Garcia capped one 17-punch exchange with a down-the-line forehand winner. She raised her fist and held that pose looking at her guest box where her father and trainer were on their feet. It was a sequence that would be repeated.

Both are big servers: Gauff hit the fastest by a woman in the tournament this year, at 128 mph; Garcia leads the WTA in aces in 2022. Each delivered one at 117 mph in her opening service game.

But it was Garcia who read Gauff’s proposals much more effectively. Garcia often came back deep enough to apparently startle Gauff, who rushed a few answers. After one of Gauff’s several attempted answers settled into the net, she pointed her racquet toward the ground, as if to indicate, “Why do these keep landing right there?!”

That kind of constant pressure, and Garcia’s tendency to stay inside the baseline to get second serves, could have contributed to Gauff’s six double faults.

Garcia also quickly gained the upper hand from the baseline with her clean, crisp strokes. During a brief television interview on the way from the locker room to the court, Garcia said she hoped to be “more aggressive.”

She certainly was.

In a nod to her flying expertise — something she showed in doubles, where she won two Grand Slams with a French partner. Kristina Mladenovic — Garcia moved forward whenever an opening presented itself. She ended up scoring 13 of 16 points when she went to the net.

Rather than fear, and try to stay away from, Gauff’s stronger backside, Garcia went after it, drawing repeated mistakes.

“I had a lot of unforced errors today; I think I had some balls where I could have finished the point, especially when she came to the net – I missed a lot of passing shots when they were open,” Gauff. said “I think I just need to taper off [the unforced errors]especially when you’re playing an aggressive player like Caroline — you can’t make as many unforced errors.”

Gauff would sometimes show some frustration at her game, slapping herself on the thigh or banging her racket on a court towel. She attempted to become the youngest American woman in the US Open semifinals since Serena Williams won her first Grand Slam title in New York in 1999 at the age of 17.

Garcia wouldn’t allow it.

The Associated Press and ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.