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Coco Gauff is the first American teenager since Serena Williams to reach back-to-back US Open quarterfinals – The Denver Post

By HOWARD FENDRICH (AP Tennis writer)

NEW YORK (AP) — Coco Gauff is the first American teenager since Serena Williams more than two decades ago to reach the quarterfinals of the US Open two years in a row. The 19-year-old from Florida knows how to get out of trouble on the tennis court.

As the second set slipped away against Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round on Sunday at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Gauff needed a chance to reflect after awarding a break with two double faults and a stumble that let her do the splits .

So Gauff turned to the near-constant chatter coming from Brad Gilbert, one of her two coaches sitting in the front row, and said, “Please stop. A few minutes later, Gauff said, “Stop talking. »

It was then that Wozniacki won four straight games to take a break in the third set. And then, just when the game seemed to be slipping away thanks in part to a slew of unforced errors, Gauff straightened her punches and pulled away. She won the last six games for a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win over Wozniacki, the 33-year-old mother of two who just came out of retirement.

“I was frustrated. It wasn’t really directed at him. It was just that I needed to reset,” said sixth-seeded Gauff. “At that time, I just didn’t want to hear anything. I just wanted to think about what I was doing.

Her next opponent will be defending champion Iga Swiatek or No. 20 seed Jelena Ostapenko. Top-seeded Swiatek was due to face Ostapenko on Sunday night, after 23-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic secured a 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 win over qualifier Borna Gojo.

Djokovic will face American Taylor Fritz, number 9, on Tuesday. This will be Djokovic’s 13th quarter-final at Flushing Meadows, and Fritz’s first.

Gauff, whose best performance at a major tournament was reaching the 2022 French Open final before losing to Swiatek, has now won 15 of his last 16 games.

This streak follows a first-round elimination at Wimbledon in July and includes the two biggest titles of his career, at the DC Open and Cincinnati. It also coincides with the arrival of Pere Riba as a full-time coach and Gilbert in a role described as a temporary consultant.

Television microphones picked up Gilbert repeatedly offering his thoughts to Gauff during games last week.

Against Wozniacki, the 2018 Australian Open champion and two-time runner-up in New York, Gauff was trying to find the right balance between being the aggressor (which she wanted) and not overdoing it (which Gilbert wanted).

“Gilbert’s reconnaissance reports are completely accurate,” Gauff said. “Sometimes you have to change things. Today I had to change things.

It was the hottest day of the event so far, with the temperature reaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius), and Gauff continued to miss the target in the second set, to the tune of 22 unforced errors. But she has dealt with that considerably over time, with just eight errors in the final set. Also key in the third: Gauff compiled an 11-2 advantage in the winners.

“She has always been a great athlete. She always had the backhand, the serve, the fighting spirit,” Wozniacki said. “I feel like right now everything is falling into place for her.”

In the third set, as the playing surface was covered in shadows, Wozniacki told chair umpire Louise Azemar Engzell that it was difficult to see the ball and asked for the stadium lights to be turned on.

“I would really appreciate it,” Wozniacki said.

This does not happen.

“She’s back and it’s like she never left,” Gauff said. “Being here on the court with her today was an honor.”

Another women’s quarterfinal match will pit #10 Karolina Muchova against #30 Sorana Cirstea.

It is guaranteed that there will be at least one American in the semi-finals for the second year in a row. That’s because number 10 Frances Tiafoe, who reached this stage 12 months ago, and unseeded Ben Shelton set up a quarter-final encounter with wins on Sunday.

Fritz managed to get three Americans through to the quarter-finals – the most since Andre Agassi, James Blake and Robby Ginepri got there in 2005 – by thrashing Swiss qualifier Dominic Stricker 7-6 (2), 6- 4, 6-4.

In the first match of the day at Ashe, 20-year-old Shelton hit two aces at 149mph (240kph) – the fastest speed of any tournament – ​​in a single match and earned a first trip in quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows. eliminating No. 14 Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

At the end of the game, Shelton, dressed in a muscular shirt, flexed his left bicep as he stood under the seating section where his father, a former touring professional who now coaches Ben, his mother and his sister.

“It’s straight adrenaline,” Shelton said of those big serves from the left.


AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis


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