Scott Sode | US Open
WHAT HAPPENED: American tennis keeps rolling at the 2023 US Open. At just 19 years old, American Coco Gauff has reached her first-ever US Open semifinal with an absolute clinical 6-0, 6-2 victory over No. 20 seed Jelena Ostapenko.
The pair had split their two previous meetings, though the Latvian scored a straight-set victory in their last encounter, in Round 4 at the Australian Open in January. That first set was quite close, however, with Ostapenko saving four break points at 4-3 and then breaking Gauff at 6-5 to ultimately swing the momentum of the match in her favor. In order to come out on top in today’s contest, the American would need to remain solid, weather a barrage of winners and take advantage when her streaky opponent started to miss.
Ostapenko, conversely, would need to keep her unforced errors low, in the same range as what she committed in her fourth-round upset of world No. 1 Iga Swiatek (20)—as opposed to the amount she produced in the second round against Elina Avanesyan (80).
And at the beginning of the match, Ostapenko could not keep the stat sheet clean. She hit half the unforced errors she hit total in her previous match in just the first three games to immediately go down a double break to the American in just nine minutes.
Credit Gauff, however, who from the very beginning committed to chasing every ball down. Desperate to make anything work, Ostapenko tried going for an uncharacteristic drop shot on break point in her next service game; Gauff sprinted up to the ball and easily put it away to break again. She claimed the first set in just 20 minutes, and Ostapenko headed off court to regroup.
The second set looked as if it might mirror the first, as Gauff broke Ostapenko in her first two service games. But the Latvian—who became the third woman in history to win four straight three-set matches to reach the US Open quarterfinals—began to find the court and produce the winners that propelled her to her victory over Swiatek. She reeled one of those breaks back and held for the first time, and even earned a break point opportunity at 3-2 with another shot for which she is not necessarily known: a lob.
But Gauff stayed tough, delighting the crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium with her trademark speed and holding steady. She held her serve, then broke Ostapenko again as the No. 20 seed began to spray her shots again. She capably came back from a 0-30 deficit on her final service game and hit an incredible forehand winner to end a 17-shot rally to become a first-time US Open semifinalist.
WHAT IT MEANS: American tennis is in good hands. After becoming the first American teenager since Serena Williams to reach back-to-back US Open Grand Slam quarterfinals, Gauff is now the first American teenager to reach the US Open semifinals since the 23-time Grand Slam champion achieved the feat in 2001. The No. 6 seed next faces the winner of the match between Sorana Cirstea and Karolina Muchova. Gauff holds a 1-0 edge over both players, most recently beating Muchova just a month ago to take the title in Cincinnati. She came through a tight three-setter against Cirstea in the second round of the 2020 Australian Open.
MATCH POINT: The summer of Gauff continues. The American has now won 10 matches in a row, which ties her previous career-best win streak.