Coco Gauff continued her run of emphatic victories at the US Open on Tuesday, breezing past Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets.
The world No. 6 didn’t lose a game in the opening set before wrapping up a convincing 6-0 6-2 victory to book her first ever semifinal spot at the US Open.
With many of the top seeds in the women’s draw having already been knocked out, Gauff remains one of the few favorites still left.
Gauff, 19, will now face either Sorana Cîrstea or this year’s French Open runner-up Karolína Muchová in the next round.
“I’m so happy,” Gauff said in her on-court interview after the win. “Last year I lost in the quarterfinals. I’m happy and ready to get back to work on the next one.”
The American faced a tricky challenge against the resurgent Ostapenko after the Latvian beat defending champion Iga Świątek in the previous round.
But, playing in front of a home crowd, Gauff showed no signs of nerves as she dominated her opponent to win the first set in just 20 minutes.
Ostapenko, who won the French Open back in 2017, came out in the second set with far more aggression, winning two games to avoid a total whitewash.
In the end, though, the frustrated Latvian proved no match for Gauff as she was punished for making consistent errors.
While the result looks emphatic on paper, Gauff was still made to work for her win.
Ostapenko saved two match points as Gauff looked to finish the tie, but the American was eventually able to clinch the win with an accurate forehand to seal her 10th consecutive victory.
“Honestly, I didn’t feel comfortable at all during the match – even on the match points,” Gauff added.
“I know the game [Ostapenko] plays. She has the ability to come back no matter the scoreline, so I was just trying to get every point, put every ball in.
“It’s really tough against her because you can’t really be aggressive, so I was trying my best to be aggressive when I could, and most of the time I was just trying to get the ball deep. She’s a tough player and she had a great tournament.”
With the victory, Gauff becomes the first American teenager to reach the US Open semifinals since Serena Williams in 2001.
It’s also just the second time in Gauff’s career that she has made it to the semifinal stage of a grand slam – the last coming at the French Open in 2022, where she eventually lost in the final to Świątek.
Ostapenko’s scheduling woes
After triumphing against Świątek in the previous round, Ostapenko was not happy with the amount of rest time she was allocated in between the impressive victory and her match against Gauff.
“I mean, if I play a match, like, a late-night session, then I suppose, in one day, I have to play at least at the same time or later on because you don’t really have much time to recover,” Ostapenko told reporters after her loss. “I think it was better for her the schedule because, obviously, she played much earlier the day I played the night session.”
The 26-year-old added that she was sure she was going to face Gauff in the night session.
“The thing was that, when I asked the day before, I was pretty sure I’m gonna play at night session because that’s what they told me. When the schedule came out, I saw I’m playing first match and was, like, ‘Wow, that’s a little bit strange scheduling,’” Ostapenko added.
“Yeah, when I saw the schedule I was a little bit surprised, not in a really good way.”
Capitalizing on the opportunity
Gauff now has a huge opportunity at Flushing Meadows.
Monday’s action saw Świątek, the No. 1 seed, Jessica Pegula, the No. 3 seed, and Ons Jabeur, the No. 5 seed, all exit the tournament, leaving Gauff and No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka as the two highest remaining seeds left in the women’s draw.
And with some convincing victories under her belt already in New York, Gauff has arguably her best chance to win her maiden grand slam title.
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 says she is currently “playing great tennis” but knows there are “always things to improve” as she anticipates a tricky 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.
“It’s like she’s got nothing to lose, so she’s playing at her best. She played great tennis against Ons – I haven’t watched her previous matches, but, yeah, she’s playing great tennis right now.
“The trickiest part is that she’s moving well, playing some heavy shots. I have to be physically and mentally ready that there are going to be some winners against me in that match.
“I just have to focus on myself more than on her. I know if I’ll bring my tennis there, I have a chance to win this match.”