Gauff reaches first US Open quarter-final, defeating Zhang in close sets
Coco Gauff beat Shuai Zhang 7-5, 7-5 on Sunday and will face Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia for a spot into the semi-finals.
American Coco Gauff, the No 12 seed, won against Chinese Shuai Zhang (7-5, 7-5) to move into the first US Open quarter-final of her career, on Sunday.
“I thought the match was very high quality. I feel like I got no free points in that match. Same with her, I don’t think I was giving away any free points, despite the double-faults. I’m super happy with how I played. It was mentally and physically a tough match. But I think that shows all the practice is coming together.”
The American still hasn’t lost a set since the start of the tournament, even if she had to escape today in the second set as she was down 5-3. Gauff, who reached the final at the French Open this year, will now face Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, the No 17 seed who is on a crazy run this summer and has just clinched the title in Cincinnati, next.
“She’s obviously a great player, even though she’s had ups and downs”, Gauff about Garcia
“She’s obviously a great player, even though she’s had ups and downs. I think right now she’s playing probably the best tennis she’s played in a long time. It’s going to be a challenge. When you play these players that are hot, I think it’s more of a mental challenge. You just got to accept she’s going to hit some great shots because I know she will. I think my mentality has been great. I played I feel like two similar opponents, Maddie Keys, who can hit some unbelievable shots from the wings. Same with Shuai today. She was hitting some great shots. I think I was doing a good job of accepting it, clapping my hands, and moving on to the next point. I think I’m going to have to do that for the next match.”
Gauff had already beaten Zhang this year in Miami in two tight sets (7-6(1), 7-5) so she knew what to expect from the Chinese. With the home crowd advantage, she played a very smart match against a rival who can play so fast and hit winners all around but also get very stressed out on the big points.
Gauff found the balance
So Gauff worked hard to find the right balance between being aggressive but also working the points, staying with Zhang until a chance would come. She finished the match with 33 winners for 25 unforced errors (26 and 29 for Zhang), and 8 double faults for 5 aces.
Easy to forget that Gauff is just 18 when one does now see her play with such poise and control! No doubt that she’s been learning enough now to be tired of it and just wanting to get that first Grand Slam title: she wanted it badly in Paris and she looks to want it very badly again here.
She and her team even changed her post-match routine: now after each match, she gets back to the practice court.
“It’s just to work on anything. There are some days you feel great about a shot, and there are some days you don’t. Then you go back and fix it. Today, we just served really. Sometimes it’s more like the mental fitness of it all. I feel like practicing afterwards has prepped me mentally for these long matches because I’m finishing a match, whether it’s an easy win or a tough win or a tough loss, coming back out I think mentally is preparing me to play these second weeks. To be honest, as I’ve played Grand Slams, I’ve noticed that physically it’s never a problem for me, it’s more about doing the mental with the press, just dealing with everything. At the French Open I proved to myself that I can do it. I practiced after a lot of matches at the French Open. It’s been working for me so I keep going.”
With the US Open crowd pushing behind her and dreaming of seeing the perfect timing between Serena leaving the stage and Gauff entering it for good, there’s going to be a huge hype for Coco in the next round. She seems ready to take the pressure on, but for sure it’s just going to get harder and harder from now on and we’re really going to see if she can already pull it off this year.
The American beat French qualifier Leolia Jeanjean (6-2, 6-3), Romanian Elena-Gabriela Ruse (6-2, 7-6 (4)) and No 20 seed Madison Keys (6-2, 6-3) earlier in the tournament. In the previous rounds of the Flushing Meadows, Zhang, ranked No 36, won against Swiss Jil Teichmann, the No 30 seed (6-4, 6-2), Slovak Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (7-5, 6-1) and Canadian Rebecca Marino (6-2, 6-4).
US OPEN, NEW YORK CITY (GRAND SLAM), OTHER ROUND OF 16 MATCHES
- Danielle Collins vs. Aryna Sabalenka : Monday
- Victoria Azarenka vs. Karolina Pliskova : Monday
- Iga Swiatek vs. Jule Niemeier : Monday
- Petra Kvitova vs. Jessica Pegula : Monday
- Ons Jabeur vs. Veronika Kudermetova : Sunday
- Liudmila Samsonova vs. Ajla Tomljanovic : Sunday
- Caroline Garcia beat Alison Riske-Amritraj (29): 6-4, 6-1