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Gauff Scores 16th Straight Win, Sets Up Beijing Semifinal vs. Swiatek

Coco Gauff of the United States rides a WTA-best 16-match winning streak into Saturday’s semifinal vs. Iga Swiatek, who owns a Tour-best 61 wins on the season. Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images

The China Open semifinals is a windfall of winners.

US Open champion Coco Gauff dismissed Maria Sakkari 6-2, 6-4 to score her 16th straight win and set up a semifinal showdown vs. reigning Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek.

“I thought today I played really well,” Gauff said. “I served really well. I think every match I’m getting better. Honestly, I didn’t expect to get this far. I didn’t know how I was going to feel after US Open. I think I just reverted back to normal and it feels like another week.”

The third-seeded Gauff, who has not lost a match since bowing to doubles partner Jessica Pegula in three sets in the Montreal quarterfinals in August, fired four aces, won 26 of 31 first-serve points and did not face a break point in a 78-minute victory.

The Gauff vs. Swiatek semifinal showdown pits two of the Tour’s biggest winners this season. Gauff rides a WTA-best 16-match winning streak into the semifinals, while Swiatek is empowered by a Tour-best 61 wins (61-11 record) on the season. 

Earlier, the second-seeded Swiatek stopped WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia 6-7(8) 7-6(5), 6-1 to advance to her 11th semifinal of the season.

“Well, for sure it was really intense. We played really fast,” Swiatek said. “There was no time sometimes to think or analyze. I’m happy I used my intuition a lot. For sure a lot of tight moments.

“In both of these first sets, every ball counted. I’m happy that in the third I could just go for it. I didn’t really have any kind of setbacks, even though I knew I could win this first set, I was happy with the way I played.”

The second-seeded Swiatek withstood 16 aces from Garcia, converting four of six break points in a two hour, 35-minute victory.

It is Swiatek’s first semifinal since she lost to Gauff for the first time in the Cincinnati semifinals. That match represented a significant turning point in Gauff’s season.

Winless in seven prior meetings vs. the world No. 1, a fearless Gauff flipped a frustrating script fighting off Swiatek 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-4 to charge into her maiden Cincinnati final with a pulsating performance.

That breakthrough victory bolsters Gauff’s confidence for the rematch.

“I think after the win in Cincinnati I have more confidence going in,” Gauff said. “It’s going to be a tough match. I mean, she’s a tough player. She was No. 1 for a long time. Still contender for that spot.

“I mean, I’ve seen some of the comments people are saying, like she had not a good season. I mean, she won a slam and was No. 1 forever. I’m like, I would dream to have the season like she had this year.”

Four-time Grand Slam champion Swiatek said she’s aware of the changes Gauff has made working with coaches Pere Riba and Brad Gilbert and aims to adapt in the rematch.

“I know also how she plays, what she’s improved, what she changed,” Swiatek said of Gauff. “I’m just going to use that information and not overanalyze because I think we’re both good players. Now we just have to kind of both fight.

“I’m sure it’s not going to be an easy match probably. It’s going to be tight. But I just hope I’ll play a good game. Yeah, as I said at the beginning, I’m just happy to play good tennis and not make too many mistakes and be solid. For me, I already happy with how that tournament went for me after what I kind of felt after US Open and Tokyo. I’m in a good place no matter what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

Residing at a career-high ranking of No. 3, Gauff is eager to close the gap on the world No. 2 who has dominated their rivalry before the American’s Cincinnati triumph. Swiatek won 14 consecutive sets against Gauff before Cincinnati.

“I think it’s going to be a tough match,” Gauff said. “The type of matches I had before, I’m not going to try to put too much pressure on myself. I lost to her a lot of times. I’m just trying my best to close the head-to-head a little bit closer.

“I’ll try to get number two on the board. If not, I’m really happy with how I played this week. I feel more confident going in than I did in Cincinnati.”