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    Thursday, June 6, 2024

    Coco Gauff Becomes Only Third American in 56 years to Achieve Rare French Open Feat

    Coco Gauff is into the French Open semi-finals, and continues to smash records as she chases her second Grand Slam title.

    The world no. 3 battled from a set behind to beat eighth seed Ons Jabeur, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in an enthralling quarter-final clash on Tuesday and set up a last-four showdown with world no. 1 Iga Swiatek.

    The American phenom, who clinched her first major at the US Open last year, is into her second semi-final at Roland Garros having reached the final in 2022.

    In making the final four, Gauff has become only the third American in the Open Era (since 1968) to reach multiple women’s singles semi-finals at Roland Garros before the age of 21.

    She joins Chris Evert and Andrea Jaeger on that exclusive list. Evert achieved it in 1981 and 1982 while Jaeger did the same in 1981 and 1983.

    Gauff has also equalled idol Serena Williams’ dominant record from 2002 in becoming the first American woman age 20 or younger since then to make three consecutive major semi-finals since.

    At 20 years and 82 days, Gauff is also the youngest player to reach three or more consecutive women’s singles semi-finals at Grand Slam events since Maria Sharapova.

    Sharapova reached four semis between Wimbledon 2006 and Roland Garros 2007, while Gauff has been a semi-finalist at the 2023 US Open – which she went on to win – as well as the 2024 Australian Open and now the 2024 French Open.

    It is Gauff’s fourth Grand Slam semi of her career having also reached the same stage in Paris in 2022.

    Gauff is now only the second player since 2000 to claim 20+ women’s singles match wins at Roland Garros before turning 21, along with her next opponent, Swiatek (21).

    Speaking after her win against Jabeur, Gauff said: “She’s a tough opponent and she is well loved on tour.

    “Whenever she is not playing, I cheer for her too so thank you guys for making it a great atmosphere. I like playing in atmospheres like this. I know you wanted her to win but even when I was in the bathroom, I was thinking this is really fun, win or lose.

    “There were two people sitting behind my bench cheering. I know I have a lot of love in Paris, trust me I know. I really appreciate it. Hopefully you guys can help me make it through to the next round.

    Speaking on coming back from a set down, the 20-year-old said: “I was definitely trying to be more aggressive, she was playing really well for the whole match.

    “She was hitting a lot of winners on me which is something I’m not used to against anybody. Today I was trying to be aggressive towards the end and I got a little bit tight on the couple of match points but I think I did what I needed to do to win the match.”

    Gauff will now face Swiatek for a place in the French Open final.

    Just two years ago, an 18-year-old Gauff became so emotional at Roland Garros that she couldn’t hold back tears. She lost to Swiatek in that 2022 final.

    Now, Coco will have the chance to avenge that loss after the world no. 1 demolished Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova in her quarter-final match.

    Swiatek won 6-0, 6-2, to advance to the semi-final against Gauff, which will take place on Thursday on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

    Gauff will have her work cut out against the Pole, who has won 10 of their 11 previous meetings and has looked in ominous form – the most recent coming in Rome last month and the most important being the Roland Garros final in 2022.

    Swiatek, 23, is chasing a third straight title and a fourth in five years and has dropped only eight games so far.

    Asked about facing Gauff, Swiatek said she was taking on a much more rounded and mature player than in previous games.

    She said: “I think her mental game is a little bit better. Before it was, you know, kind of easier to ‘crack her’, I would say, when you were leading.

    “But, I mean, it’s normal that she’s making progress. She’s at that age that everything goes pretty nicely, that if you’re working hard then you will get progress.

    “She’s probably doing that, and probably every aspect of her game is a little bit better, because it’s different being a teenager on the tour and then being a more mature player.”

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