Coco Gauff’s hopes of home glory end with US Open loss to Caroline Garcia

Coco Gauff’s dreams of a grand slam breakthrough on home soil came to a screeching halt on Tuesday night in the US Open quarter-finals against the in-form Caroline Garcia.

Garcia, the No 17 seed who has been the hottest player on the women’s tour all summer, took the match by the scruff from the start and didn’t let up in a straightforward 6-3, 6-4 win over the 12th-seeded American to reach her first career major semi-final only weeks before her 29th birthday.

“My head is just buzzing,” said Garcia, who extended a career-best streak of 13 straight wins and joined Amelie Mauresmo and Mary Pierce as the only French women in the professional era to reach the last four at Flushing Meadows. “I don’t know how to describe it.”

Garcia was out to a flying start before the majority of the late-arriving New York crowd had even taken their seats beneath the closed roof of Arthur Ashe Stadium, breaking Gauff in her opening two service games.

Stepping right up to the baseline on Gauff’s first serve and more than a foot inside of it on her second, Garcia put her teenage opponent under immediate pressure with blistering returns deep into the court and sharp, angled groundstrokes off both wings early in the points.

From there Gauff was able to get her teeth into the match by mixing up her serve speed, getting one of the breaks back and playing out the opener on level terms. But it wasn’t enough to make up the difference as Garcia calmly answered the pressure points on her serve with one screaming winner after another to close out the first after 45 minutes.

After breaking Gauff again to open the second set, Garcia began breezing through her service games, compensating for an uneven 52% first-serve percentage with more ferocious ball-striking and denying her opponent any chance to get the partisan crowd involved. She faced just one break point the rest of the way until Gauff sent a backhand into the net on match point after 1hr 37min.

It was the latest high point in a resurgent season for the 28-year-old Garcia, who was ranked 75th as recently as mid-June but has since thrived under new coach Bertrand Perret, winning three events on three different surfaces. She will enter Thursday’s semi-final against fifth-seeded Ons Jabeur having won 18 of her past 19 matches, including a run to her first WTA 1000 title in five years last month in Cincinnati that featured wins over No 3 Maria Sakkari, No 7 Aryna Sabalenka and No 8 Jessica Pegula.

“I’m just trying to focus on my game, on what I like to do, how is the best way for me to play tennis,” said Garcia, who had lost each of two previous meetings against Gauff, both this year. “The path is very clear right now, which direction I have to go, under stress, under pressure. I’m just trying to follow this path. That’s how we prepare with the team. We try to do the best we can in this direction.”

Gauff, the precocious 18-year-old from Delray Beach, Florida, who reached the French Open final in July, fell short in her bid to become the youngest American to reach the US Open semi-finals since 1999, when Serena Williams broke through for the first of her 23 major singles titles.

“I think it was really about her level of play,” Gauff said. “You’re playing someone off the bat, they’re standing on top of the baseline and ripping balls, it’s not easy. She has the type of game that you kind of have to adjust to because I feel like it’s not hit-or-miss because she definitely makes more, but you’re hitting a good serve, and sometimes you’re not expecting the ball to come back as fast and as deep as she was hitting it.”