PARIS – It was the first Grand Slam singles quarterfinal for Coco Gauff and Barbora Krejcikova, and, frankly, you could see it.
There were tight ground stretches in the net, stray throws from the service and multiple double faults, reversal of momentum and luck.
To sum up, there was tension in the sunlight as fans – do you remember that? – shouted “Allez Coco!” from high on the stands in the Philippe Chatrier Stadium.
Gauff, the American 17-year-old, received the most support, but she could not succeed in giving the audience of Roland Garros what he wanted. After failing to convert five set points in the first set, she lost the unseeded Krejcikova, 7-6 (6), 6-3.
Gauff, the last American to leave in singles, finished with 25 winners, 41 unforced errors and one battered missile after destroying it in anger with three quick blows to the red clay, after making a double mistake to make it 4-0 in to touch the last set behind.
“I was obviously disappointed because I could not finish the first set,” Gauff said. ‘To be honest, it was in the past, it’s already happened. After the match, my hitting partner Enzo told me that this match would probably make me a champion in the future. I really believe that. ”
Gauff was brilliant at times and scolded others. She lost 15 straight points at one point in the second set. It wasn’t quite her doing. Krejcikova, a former French Open doubles champion, came into her own as a single player and has a wide range of shots and tactical options, as well as basic strength when she chooses to summon it.
But Krejcikova also struggled with her nerves on Wednesday. She was open this week to her efforts to handle the mental tension of reaching her first depth in singles at a Grand Slam tournament.
Before her fourth round with Sloane Stephens, she said she locked herself in a room used by the physiotherapists to talk to her psychologist. “I was actually crying,” she said. “I just felt really bad, and I do not know why.”
She said she and her psychologist had a long discussion. “She said to me, ‘If you can overcome what you’re feeling right now, it’s going to be a big win, and it does not matter if you’re going to win on the track or lose on the track, because it’s it will be a personal victory. ” It turned out to be a win-win when she played a brilliant match to defeat Stephens, by mixing her twists and decisions expertly, just as Gauff played her best match of the tournament when we defeated Ons Jabeur . won in the fourth round in live sets without a double fault.
But Wednesday was a different day. Gauff had a double fault at the start of the game and finished with seven, regularly throwing her serve work and working to control her breathing. After falling behind 5-0 in the second set, she did not go through the action. She continued to fight, keeping the serve and with the crowd behind her, saving three points to break Krejcikova’s serve in the next game and then save two more when she kept the serve to almost 5-3 .
Another momentum swing still felt possible given both players’ experience at this level of a Grand Slam tournament. But Krejcikova held on in the next game and when Gauff missed her last hand, she became the second unseeded player to reach the French Open semi-finals this year. Tamara Zidansek, an unseeded Slovenian, will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Thursday.
Krejcikova plays the unseeded Maria Sakkari, who stunned defending champion Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-4.
“This will definitely keep me in my mind for a few days,” Gauff said. ‘I just think when I think about it, you know, it’s over, so I’m not going to say,’ Oh, if I did, if I did. ‘I think at the moment I have made the best decision, and I have to stick to it. ”
Gauff will start preparing for Wimbledon, which starts on June 28. This is where she emerged in 2019 at the age of 15 by defeating Venus Williams in her first Grand Slam singles match.
Her progress since then has been steady rather than meteoric. There will be more to learn from Wednesday’s setback. But it was a positive clay season and a tournament for the usually much more skilled teenager. She reached the semi-finals of the Italian Open and won the singles and doubles titles in Parma. She was selected in Paris 24th – her first time during a major tournament – and won four matches without dropping a set.
“Her time will come,” Krejcikova said. At age 25, she knows a thing or two about patience.