Coco Gauff has made it to the finals of the French Open

After graduating from high school online, Coco Gauff is in a new phase of her tennis career, and is celebrating at her favorite city in the French Open.

He had long been in power and early speed, which he emphasized at the age of 15 when he reached the fourth round of Wimbledon. Three years later, he is playing with less enthusiasm and more patience. And on Tuesday, at the same Philippe Chatrier Court, where he lost his composure a year ago in the midst of clear mistakes and frustrations, he held on brilliantly, defeating Sloane Stephens 7-5, 6-2 to reach his first Grand Slam singles final. .

Gauff, 18, first ranked. On the 18th, she will face Martina Trevisan, an Italian who has not qualified, and will also play in her first major semi-final. Trevisan won 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-3 against 17th-ranked Leylah Fernandez on Tuesday.

“I feel very happy right now; words can’t explain it, “Gauff said in a statement on the court.

A year ago, Gauff lost to Barbora Krejcikova, then an unclassified doubles specialist, in the quarterfinals of Roland Garros, 7-6 (6), 6-3. He failed to convert five set points in the opening set, made unforced errors on the team, and destroyed his unusual racket with three angry blows to the red clay when he fell behind in the second set.

Krejcikova went on to win the title, and Gauff had to work on his regrets: trying to separate the player from the person, his approach to the crowd after Stephens ’victory.

“I believe in myself, but I think when I was young, like last year, I was also focused on trying to live up to the expectations of others,” she said. “I think you should enjoy life. I know how good or bad my career is, I think I’m a great person. “

Gauff, of Delray Beach, Fla., Has long been identified as a potential superstar, and for good reason. At age 13, she was the youngest U.S. Open girls finalist in history. At the age of 14 she won the French Open girls title, a year before qualifying for Wimbledon in 2019, where she defeated one of her role models, Venus Williams, in her first major All England Club match. .

Unlike some teenage prodigies, Gauff was in no hurry to rise to the top of women’s tennis. His progress has not been linear, but he is now in new territory in the quarterfinals of the French Open, perhaps on a rough surface that suits him best.

Like few players in the game, he can stretch points with his agility and defensive skills, and he can also finish with a formidable two-handed back, and more and more with his hand, with his weaker wing. Far from being perfect against Stephens, he made 18 wins with 23 unforced errors, including six double failures. But he played better on critical points, rarely going from a committed position in search of a winner. Instead, he worked patiently on the path to the start, while Stephens struggled to maintain his consistency, confusing the winning forehand with timeless errors and several gaffes on the net.

Stephens, the former US Open champion, has had great success on clay, reaching the 2018 French Open final and losing to Simona Halep. But he didn’t win a clay court match this season before qualifying for Roland Garros without qualifying.

“I’d like to play better today, but that doesn’t take away from the work he’s obviously done to get to this point,” Stephens said of Gauff.

Stephens, 29, is now in Boston, but he has been in South Florida for a long time, like Gauff and his family, and he knew Gauff well enough to attend his 10th birthday party. He has long been a role model for Gauff, defeating him in the second round of the U.S. Open last year in the second round of the U.S. Open.

“I’m glad today has been different,” Gauff said. “Actually, I told myself mentally to stay there. I knew there would be some shots that I would have to make and some shots that he would make on the court that he probably didn’t have any other players on the court. “

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