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Gauff Defeats Wozniacki to Reach Second Straight US Open Quarterfinal

Photo credit: Manuela Davies/USTA/US Open

NEW YORK—Grand Slam rallies are a give-and-take of pace and spin.

Facing a former world No. 1 enjoying a dream run, Coco Gauff knows champions don’t give major matches away.

So she took it to Caroline Wozniacki when it mattered most.

Elevating her attack, Gauff soared through six straight games stopping Wozniacki 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 to become the first American teenager to reach successive US Open quarterfinals since Serena Williams in 2001.

The sixth-seeded Gauff will face either world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, whom she defeated for the first time in eight matches en route to the Cincinnati championship last month, or 20th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko for a place in the semifinals.

Energized by a loud crowd of 23,000 exhorting her, Gauff battled back from a break down in the first and last sets prevailing in a physical duel of lightning-quick champions who collaborated on some terrific running rallies.

“Definitely getting it to 2-1 was the turning point,” Gauff told ESPN’s Mary Joe Fernandez afterward. “I got broken the first game and I showed I was still in the match. I started going for my shots.

“Caroline is back and it’s like she never left. The level that she played today is really amazing. She’s been an inspiration for me growing up. I remember watching her win the Australian Open when everybody was saying all sorts of things about her so to be on the court with her today was an honor.”

The 19-year-old Gauff won 12 of 13 trips to net, converted all three break points she earned and cracked nine more winners than Wozniacki (11 to 2) in the final set to score her third three-set victory in four tournament wins this week.

It was Gauff ninth straight win and her 15th victory in her last 16 matches and it didn’t come easy.

“She definitely gets to a lot of balls,” Gauff said. “Sometimes I felt like it was like playing myself getting that one extra ball back. In some moments I missed, but I’m happy I was able to get back and focus… She’s a player who’s not going to back down.”

Wild card Wozniacki, playing just her third tournament in the last three-and-a-half years, matched the teenager’s intensity, physicality and court coverage for two full sets.

Ultimately, Gauff’s superior serving and her skill closing points at net proved to be the difference in a match that began with the 33-year-old Wozniacki breaking to open in building a 2-0 lead before Gauff broke back to level after four games.

Working Wozniacki corner-to-corner, Gauff was in a groove drawing a forehand error for her eighth straight point to break for 5-3.

On her third set point, Gauff sent a serve down the middle closing the set in 39 minutes.

A streaking Wozniacki ran down a dropper and flicked a forehand pass for double break point in the second game of the second set—the Dane’s first break point since she broke to start the match. Gauff fended off break point to level after two games.

Navigating a 10-minute point hold in the fourth game, Gauff asked her box for more energy at one point and it complained.

“We got now!” Gauff’s mother, Candi Gauff, yelled as her daughter dug in to hold for 2-2.

Contesting her 52nd Grand Slam main draw, Wozniacki kept calm and continued grinding away.

Credit Wozniacki, just as she did against American Jennifer Brady in her 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 third round win, grew sharper as the match progressed. Hitting her backhand with precision on the run, Wozniacki curled a crosscourt pass that eluded a skidding Gauff to break for 5-3.

The two-time US Open finalist flew through a love hold to force a final set after 87 minutes. Gauff littered 22 unforced errors in the second set and did not get a sniff of a break point as Wozniacki won 19 of 25 serve points in the second set.

An emboldened Wozniacki was controlling the center of the court making Gauff work and testing the teenager’s consistency.

Pinning Gauff deep behind the baseline, Wozniacki drew a netted backhand breaking to start the final set.

Gauff, who briefly made the throat-cutting gesture toward her box apparently asking coaches Pere Riba and Brad Gilbert to cut the coaching talk amid third-set tension, broke right back to level.

“I find it hard to see, if you can turn on the lights, I’d really appreciate it,” Wozniacki said to chair umpire Louise Engzell serving at 1-2 in the final set. Though it was only about 5:15 p.m. when the former No. 1 made the request, shadows completely covered Arthur Ashe Stadium court at that point.

Following a forehand down the line forward on break point, Gauff challenged the mom of two to make a pass and Wozniacki found the net. Gauff broke for her third consecutive game and a 3-1 lead.

Confronting break point, Gauff took charge as the stadium lights went on. The Washington, DC champion explored the corners of the court pushing the Dane into pursuit on the perimeter. Gauff erased break point then pounded down a smash holding strong for 4-1.

During the ensuing changeover, an ornery Wozniacki griped about the delay in turning on the lights questioning why officials turned on the lights during Gauff’s service game.

“You realize how ridiculous this is,” Wozniacki told Engzell. “I don’t get the lights at all and then at love-30 she gets perfect vision. It’s like a joke.”

On her second match point, Gauff attacked behind one final forehand closing 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

Father Cori Gauff, beaming with joy, pointed down from the standsin celebration as his daughter raised her 2023 record to 41-13, including a 30-6 mark on hard courts.