PARIS (AP) — Coco Gauff left Roland Garros 12 months ago discouraged, knowing she had let a big lead slip away on her major quarter-final debut. She swore to remember it and learn from it.
Consider it done.
Gauff, still just 18, returned to this stage on Tuesday for the second time and wasn’t about to let this one end the same way, beating the 2017 US Open champion and the 2018 French Open runner-up Sloane Stephens 7-5, 6-2 in one match. between the Americans at Court Philippe Chatrier to reach their first Grand Slam semi-final.
“It was just a mental challenge today,” said Gauff, who began this trip to Paris by taking photos near the Eiffel Tower while holding her recently graduated high school diploma. “Last year in the quarter-finals was a tough loss for me and I think this match made me stronger and better prepared for today’s tough times.”
Gauff appears to have been preparing for this kind of moment for some time, even before becoming the youngest qualifier in Wimbledon history at 15 and beating Venus Williams en route to the fourth round there in 2019, even before to win Roland-Garros. junior title a year earlier.
A measure of how she continued to improve: her forehand was long considered her weakest groundstroke, but against Stephens it produced more winners than her backhand.
“I believe in myself. Even last year I was too focused trying to live up to other people’s expectations,” said Gauff, who hasn’t dropped a set in five games. how good or bad my career is, I know I’m a good person, so I think this is a good message for young people…. Just know: if you love yourself, who cares what other people think ?”
Her rapid rise contrasts with the long road taken by her next opponent, the Italian Martina Trevisan, to her first Grand Slam semi-final at the age of 28.
The 59th-ranked Trevisan is as emotional as it gets, and she screamed as she thrust both arms overhead and let her racquet fly after knocking out 17th-seeded US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez , by a 6-2, 6-7 (3), Score 6-3 in a match between two lefties.
Fernandez was treated by a trainer for a problem with her right foot after the fifth game of the game and her movements were hampered throughout. About three hours after the match, reporters were told that Fernandez would not speak to the media “on the advice of the tournament medical team due” to the injury.
Trevisan finally ended things nearly an hour after holding his first match point while serving for the win at 5-4 in the second set. She double faulted twice in the ensuing tiebreaker.
“I felt a lot of tension,” Trevisan said later, “and I was so nervous…my arms felt it.”
So, after this time, Trevisan took a turn in the locker room.
“I was very tired and had to go to the bathroom. I had just a little time alone in a room, away from the court, away from everyone, in silence. It gave me a chance to pull myself together. I threw water on my face,” she said. “I was playing to get to the semis, and I still had a set ahead of me, so I had to start from scratch.”
The reset worked wonders.
Trevisan grabbed the first seven points of the third set and took a 4-0 lead in what would become his 10th straight win after claiming his maiden WTA title in Rabat, Morocco the week before Roland Garros.
In 2020, Trevisan beat Gauff in the second round at Roland Garros en route to reaching the quarter-finals as the 159th-ranked qualifier and making just her second Grand Slam main draw appearance.
About two months prior, Trevisan had written a blog post detailing his experience with anorexia as a teenager. At 16, Trevisan was a promising prospect whose mother taught tennis – and named her after Martina Navratilova – and whose brother played professionally (his father was a professional soccer player).
Beset by pressure, Trevisan quit her sport and took a 4½-year hiatus, before returning in 2014.
“I’m happy on the pitch. I do what I love,” she said Tuesday. “So my past is the past, and that helps me be in the present, to be who I am right now.”
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