Late bloomer Trevisan, Gauff to clash in French Open semi-final

Published June 1, 2022
COCO Gauff of the US plays a return to compatriot Sloane Stephens during their French Open quarter-final at Court Philippe-Chatrier on Tuesday.—AFP
COCO Gauff of the US plays a return to compatriot Sloane Stephens during their French Open quarter-final at Court Philippe-Chatrier on Tuesday.—AFP

PARIS: Teenage star Coco Gauff and Martina Trevisan, a seasoned Italian professional who rebuilt her career after conquering anorexia, reached their maiden Grand Slam semi-finals here at the French Open on Tuesday.

Gauff, who burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old history-maker at Wimbledon three years ago, defeated fellow American Sloane Stephens 7-5, 6-2.

Trevisan needed three sets to see off 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez of Canada 6-2, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3.

Victory for Gauff, 18 years old and ranked 23 in the world, avenged her defeat to Stephens at the 2021 US Open and helped erase the memory of her quarter-final defeat last year to eventual champion Barbora Krejcikova in Paris.

“I feel so happy,” said Gauff. “Last year was a tough loss for me but I believe that match made me stronger.

“Last time I played Sloane I lost. Today was different. I stayed mentally strong as she is the kind of player who can make shots others can’t do.”

On Tuesday, Gauff broke in the second game of the match to lead 3-0 before 2018 runner-up Stephens levelled with a break and hold for 5-5.

However, clean, precise hitting allowed Gauff to dominate the 12th game to clinch the opener.

Stephens, playing in her first Slam quarter-final in three years, and Gauff traded breaks at the start of the second set before the teenager again pounced for 3-1.

Gauff held for 5-1, was broken for 5-2 before Stephens dropped serve for the fourth time in the set to hand her compatriot victory.

Gauff was junior champion at Roland Garros in 2018 and then rocketed into the public consciousness when she became the youngest woman to qualify for Wimbledon.

Her profile rocketed when she went all the way to the fourth round at the All England Club, knocking out Venus Williams on the way.

While in the French capital, Gauff has graduated high school, marking the occasion on Instagram with a family photo in front of the Eiffel Tower.

“Getting my diploma meant a lot to me,” she said on Tuesday.

“Lots of players think tennis is the most important thing and it’s not.”

World number 59 Trevisan, 10 years older than Gauff, was a shock quarter-finalist in 2020.

She arrived at the French Open with a maiden WTA title in Rabat and went into Tuesday’s tie on a nine-match winning streak.

She made that 10 when she claimed victory on a second match point having wasted one in the second set with Fernandez left to rue her 44 unforced errors.

“I was very nervous on that first match point, I thought I was already in the semi-final,” said Trevisan, the first Italian woman to make the last four since Sara Errani in 2013.

Trevisan, now guaranteed a place in the top 30 at least, said Grand Slam titles by fellow Italians Francesca Schiavone in Paris in 2010 and Flavia Pennetta at the 2015 US Open were her influences.

“They are happy for me. They are my biggest inspirations.”

Two years ago, Trevisan, then ranked 159, knocked Gauff out in three sets in the second round in Paris.

In Monday’s late action, world number two Daniil Medvedev crashed out in the fourth round as women’s top seed Iga Swiatek took her winning streak to 32 matches after surviving a huge scare.

US Open champion Medvedev was beaten by 20th seed Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in just 1hr 45 min on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Cilic will face Russia’s Andrey Rublev in his third career Roland Garros quarter-final.

Rublev made the quarter-finals for the second time when Italian opponent Jannik Sinner retired with a left knee injury with the Russian 1-6, 6-4, 2-0 ahead.

Swiatek survived a scare at the hands of injured Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen, dropping the first set before going on to make the quarter-finals.

Swiatek prevailed 6-7 (5-7), 6-0, 6-2 to equal the third best winning streak this century of 32 matches set by Justine Henin 14 years ago and will face US 11th seed Jessica Pegula for a place in the semi-finals.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2022

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