Coco Gauff blazed into a semifinal of the U.S. Open for the first time behind one of the easiest wins of her career. Gauff, the No. 6 seed, required only 68 minutes on Tuesday afternoon to dismiss No. 20 Jelena Ostapenko from the tournament, 6-0, 6-2, and become the first American teenager since Serena Williams in 2001 to reach the final four.
Williams was also 19 that year, and went on to reach the final, where she lost to Venus Williams, her sister. But Serena Williams eventually won 23 major singles titles and staked a claim as the best player in tennis history. Gauff, with years ahead of her, is looking for her first Grand Slam singles title.
“She’s my idol,” Gauff said of Serena Williams, “and I think if you told me when I was younger that I would be in these same stat lines as her I would freak out. I’m still trying not to think about it a lot because I don’t want to get my head big or add pressure, but it is a cool moment to have that stat alongside her.”
In her semifinal, Gauff will play either No. 30 Sorana Cirstea or No. 10 Karolina Muchova, whose match was scheduled for Tuesday night. Gauff has faced those players once each and won both matches, helping to make her road to the final, and perhaps her first Grand Slam tournament title, potentially very smooth. She has already avoided a prospective quarterfinal match with top-seeded Iga Swiatek because Ostapenko upset her in a late match Sunday night.
But when Ostapenko returned to the court at noon on Tuesday, with the temperature on the court in Arthur Ashe Stadium above 90 degrees, she was no match for Gauff. Attempting to hit aggressive winners from the beginning, Ostapenko made 36 unforced errors as Gauff played a patient, mature game and turned her attention to the next round.
“I feel so fresh, to be honest,” Gauff said. “I’m really proud of how I’ve been able to get through these matches.”