French Open: Coco Gauff reaches first Grand Slam singles semi-final after defeating Sloane Stephens

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Coco Gauff reaches her first Grand Slam singles semi-final after defeating fellow American Sloane Stephens in straight sets… with the 18-year-old set to face Martina Trevisan for a place in French Open final

  • Coco Gauff is the youngest player left in the draw after qualifying for last four 
  • Sloane Stephens battled back from 5-2 down but lost the first set tie break 
  • Gauff then stormed into a 5-1 lead before nerves saw her double fault twice
  • But the 18-year-old won the match on Stephens’ serve in the very next game 

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Before Emma Raducanu there was Coco Gauff, emerging at Wimbledon aged 15 with a win over Venus Williams and contending thereafter with great expectations.

While the British player soared from nowhere the American, more than a year younger, has been on a more gradual upwards flightpath that now sees her in the last four of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Having beaten Sloane Stephens 7-5 6-2 in Tuesday’s French Open quarter finals she has an excellent chance of making the final. She will face world number 59 Martina Trevisan of Italy, who saw off another teenager in Canadian Leylah Fernandez 6-2 6-7 6-3.

American teenager Coco Gauff powered into her first ever Grand Slam semi-final

Gauff beat compatriot Sloane Stephens 7-5 6-2 to qualify for the last four at the French Open

Gauff beat compatriot Sloane Stephens 7-5 6-2 to qualify for the last four at the French Open

Gauff beat compatriot Sloane Stephens 7-5 6-2 to qualify for the last four at the French Open

You cannot choose the speed of your ascent in sport and Gauff has been building nicely. She made the last eight at Roland Garros twelve months ago, and has been in the last sixteen at Wimbledon twice.

This is likely to prove an easier passage to manage than that of Raducanu, with whom she also shares the admirable achievement of completing secondary education. Gauff officially graduated from high school just before this tournament started, and proudly posed before the Eiffel Tower wearing a mortarboard.

‘I know how hard it was to do school and play tennis on the road,’ she said. ‘Other players in general get out of sight with life and think tennis is the most important thing in the world. It is not, so getting my high school diploma meant a lot to me.

‘I feel so happy right now. Last year in the quarterfinal, it was a tough loss for me. I think that match made me stronger and to be better prepared for moments like this and the moments I will face in the next round.

Gauff survived a Stephens comeback from 5-2 down to win the first set tie break

Gauff survived a Stephens comeback from 5-2 down to win the first set tie break

Gauff survived a Stephens comeback from 5-2 down to win the first set tie break

Stephens will rue missed chances throughout the match, including three breaks in the second

Stephens will rue missed chances throughout the match, including three breaks in the second

Stephens will rue missed chances throughout the match, including three breaks in the second

‘Obviously I believe in myself but even last year I was too focused on trying to fulfil other people’s expectations. Just enjoy life. No matter how good or how bad my career is, I think I am a great person and that is a message for all the young players out there.

‘Your job, how much money you make, it doesn’t define you as a person. Don’t care what other people think.’ Easier said than done, no doubt, but the positive mindset has helped her exploit the attributes which make her so effective on clay.

While Gauff has had issues in recent years with her serve and forehand she has been a consistently excellent mover, and someone difficult to break down.

She has also developed her game by playing doubles, and her all-round abilities will make her favourite to beat the defensive baseliner Trevisan.

As is often seen in the women’s game Gauff’s half of the draw has been blown apart, and she is the highest surviving seed at number eighteen.

The firm favourite for the women’s event remains Iga Swiatek, but her nervy performance in the fourth round will give opponents hope. Wednesday’s remaining quarter final will see her face another American in 28 year-old world number eleven Jessica Pegula.

Instead of serving out the match Gauff double faulted twice to give her opponent a brief reprieve

Instead of serving out the match Gauff double faulted twice to give her opponent a brief reprieve

Instead of serving out the match Gauff double faulted twice to give her opponent a brief reprieve

But she won the match in the next game and will now play Italy's Martina Trevisan on Saturday

But she won the match in the next game and will now play Italy's Martina Trevisan on Saturday

But she won the match in the next game and will now play Italy’s Martina Trevisan on Saturday

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