She’s done it again.
Coco Gauff is back in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open. Gauff joined some pretty elite company Sunday when she became the first American teenager since Serena Williams more than 20 years ago to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals in consecutive years.
The 19-year-old fan favorite earned a trip to the round of eight with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win over Caroline Wozniacki at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday. She earned it with a resilient and determined performance, during which she told her coach Brad Gilbert to “stop talking” while the second set was slipping away from her.
Gauff won't be facing No. 1 seed Iga Swiatek, as expected. No. 20 seed Jelena Ostapenko knocked out Swiatek, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, in a late match that ended about midnight.
After dropping the second set and then losing every point of the first game of the third, Gauff flipped the script and won six straight games. Afterward, she explained that she didn’t have a problem with her coaching team, calling the interaction a “stress reaction.”
“Sometimes, I tell them to chill a little bit,” Gauff said, “because I like to figure out matches my own way.”
Because of a recent rule change, this is the first year that coaches are allowed to talk with their players during games and many players seem to be figuring out just how much in-game encouragement they want. In the past, players were penalized for conferring with their coaches. Most famously, Serena Williams was penalized for receiving coaching during her loss to Naomi Osaka in the 2018 U.S. Open final.
Gauff added Gilbert to her coaching team after her shocking loss in the first round of Wimbledon this year. Gilbert, who has coached Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray in the past, has been widely credited with Gauff’s recent hot play.
Since the Wimbledon loss, Gauff has won 15 of 16 matches. She has also won the two biggest titles of her career, the D.C. Open and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
She has never, however, won a Grand Slam tournament. Her best showing at a major was reaching the finals of the 2022 French Open where she lost to Swiatek.
Gauff’s win Sunday ended an inspirational comeback run for the 33-year-old Wozniacki. The 2018 Australian champion and a two-time runner-up at the U.S. Open, Wozniacki left the game in 2020 and during her three-year hiatus had two children with her husband, former Knicks forward David Lee.
This marked the first time the two players had met. Gauff said she had grown up watching Wozniacki and referred to her as a legend. Wozniacki said she had watched Gauff frequently on television during her break and was impressed with the way she has been playing lately.
"I think Coco over the last month and a half, ever since after Wimbledon, I think she's not scared to hit through her forehand, which she has been in the past,” Wozniacki said in her postmatch press conference. “I think she's getting more depth on it and a little bit more rotation. I think that's why she's obviously winning more on a consistent basis.
“I think she's always been a great athlete, she's always had the backhand, the serve, the fighting spirit. I feel like right now it's all kind of coming together for her, yeah.”
Wozniacki, who was ranked No. 1 in the world in singles for 71 weeks during the course of her career, was 17 years old when she played in her first Grand Slam. She played in a total of 43 majors before finally winning one at the age of 27.
Gauff burst into prominence in her first Grand Slam match when the then 15-year-old defeated Venus Williams in the first round of Wimbledon. This is her 17th Grand Slam tournament and there’s no doubt that she is itching to finally win it.
Wozniacki has no doubt that it will eventually happen for her.
Said Wozniacki: “At the end of the day, everyone has their own path. There were a lot of eyes on her immediately. With that comes expectation, everything else ... She’s a hard worker. She’s a great athlete. When her time comes, it’s going to come.”