Coco Gauff prevailed in an all-American showdown on Tuesday at Roland Garros, defeating 2018 French Open finalist Sloane Stephens 7-5, 6-2 to reach the first Grand Slam semifinal of her career. The 18-year-old Gauff needed 90 minutes to oust 2017 US Open champion Stephens. Gauff's victory avenged her straight-sets loss to Stephens in their only previous meeting, at last year's US Open.
Gauff has yet to drop a set in the tournament, and indeed has not been pushed beyond an hour and a half in each of her five wins this fortnight. Gauff will face another first-time major semifinalist on Thursday when she takes on unseeded Italian Martina Trevisan for a spot in the Roland Garros final. Trevisan ousted Leylah Fernandez earlier on Tuesday, winning her 10th straight match in the process.
Stephens came into Roland Garros 0-4 on clay this season, but as she has done throughout her career, she leveled up her game at a major, especially in Paris. This was Stephens's third Roland Garros quarterfinal, and she is up to 32 match-wins at the French Open, which is her highest total of victories at any of the Grand Slams.
However, Gauff has started her own record of excellence at the majors. By returning to the quarterfinals after her breakthrough run to that round last year, Gauff became the first woman to reach multiple Grand Slam quarterfinals before turning 19 since Nicole Vaidisova in 2007. Gauff set the tone early by taking charge in lengthy rallies, quickly breaking Stephens in the second game.
With Gauff serving for the set at 5-3, though, Stephens refused to miss and grabbed control, pulling back on serve. However, Gauff reclaimed momentum at 6-5, reaching triple set point after using outstanding defense to draw a swing volley error from Stephens. Two points later, Gauff clinched the set with a backhand winner.