French Open: Coco Gauff reaches first Grand Slam semi-final after straight-sets win over Sloane Stephens

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Coco Gauff reached the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time after a straight-sets win over Sloane Stephens took her into the last four of the French Open.

The 18-year-old reached the quarter-finals in Paris last year but has now gone one better as she beat fellow-American Stephens 7-5 6-2 on Philippe Chatrier. She has still not lost a set in the tournament.

It was a quick start from Gauff as she moved 5-2 up in the first set and although she was unable to serve it out, the teenager broke Stephens’ serve to move halfway to the semi-finals.

Gauff lost the opening game of the second set but she then won the next five to give herself the chance to serve for the match. Two double faults allowed Stephens to get one of the breaks back, but Gauff got the job done in the very next game.

The American won the junior title at Roland Garros four years ago before bursting onto the scenes on the WTA Tour in 2019 with a run to the fourth round at Wimbledon as a 15-year-old.

Two titles have followed since then, along with plenty of perspective on life.

“Obviously I believe in myself,” Gauff said. “Even last year, I think I was too focused on trying to live up to other people’s expectations of me.

“Just enjoy life. No matter how good or how bad my career is, I think I’m a great person, and that’s a message to all young players. Your results, or your job, or how much money you make doesn’t define you as a person.

“As long as you love yourself, who cares what anyone else thinks?”

It’s been an eventful week for Gauff on and off the court in Paris - she has just graduated from high school, after combining studying with playing full-time on tour.

“Was graduating tougher [than reaching semi-finals]? Yes because I know how hard it was to do school and play tennis on the road,” Gauff said.

“Other players in general get out of sight with life and we think tennis is the most important thing in the world. It is not.

“So getting my high-school diploma meant a lot to me.”

Next up for the 18th seed is a semi-final clash against Martina Trevisan after the Italian beat Leylah Fernandez earlier in the day.

Trevisan has now won her last ten matches, after lifting the Morocco Open title in the build-up to the French Open, and she too is into the last four of a Grand Slam for the first time after a 6-2 6-7 6-3 victory.

Fernandez was battling a foot injury throughout which visibly hampered her movement, but the Canadian teenager saved a match point in the second set before taking it to a decider where she ultimately fell short.

On the men’s side of the draw, Alexander Zverev beat Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in a thrilling four-set encounter to book his place in the semi-finals.

Many fancied Alcaraz to get the better of Zverev, and potentially go all the way in Paris, but the 19-year-old could not recover after going two sets down as the third seed won 6-4 6-4 4-6 7-6.

“I knew I had to play my absolute best tennis from the start,” Zverev said.

“He is an incredible player and I told him at the net he will win this tournament many times, not just once.

“I hope I can win it once before he does - and starts beating us all.”

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