(September 3, 2023) FLUSHING, NY – No. 6 Coco Gauff, 19, passed the test against two-time former finalist, 33-year-old Caroline Wozniacki beating the Dane 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 to reach the women’s elite 8 at the US Open for the second straight year.
Wozniacki, who retired from the tour three years ago, was playing her third tournament just back out of retirement.
“I think there’s a lot of things that I can take away with me from playing this slam, and obviously I beat some great players along the way. Today Coco just played a little bit better than me,” said 2018 Australian Open winner. “You can see why she’s been playing so consistently well the last couple of months. I think she really stepped up when it mattered.”
With the victory Coco Gauff is the youngest American women’s player to make consecutive quarterfinals at the US Open since Serena Williams in 1999-2000.
Gauff hit 33 winners during the match, among them 5 aces.
Wozniacki started out the match by breaking Gauff’s serve to go up 2-0. Gauff rebounded and took set 6-3. The second set had both combatants close until the 8th game when Gauff lost her serve. Gauff seemed to be fighting off break points in all of her service games in the first two sets.
Gauff took total control of the match in the third set, only losing one game to close it out.
“She’s a player that I feel like she banks on your mistakes. Also, you can’t really hit the ball too short. She’s going to be aggressive as well. So it’s really difficult finding that balance.
“I did lose that second set off of a lot of errors, to be honest. I was trying to tell myself just to be ready to play an extra ball, ’cause she’s a player, when you think you win the point, it’s not over.
“Yeah, so I was telling myself to be ready for another ball to come back.”
Gauff is now 15-1 since Wimbledon.
“Caroline, she’s back. It’s like she never left,” said Gauff in her on-court interview with Marijo Fernandez. “The level that she played today is really amazing. She’s been an inspiration for me growing up. She definitely gets to a lot of balls. I felt sometimes it was like playing myself, anticipating and getting that one extra ball back. I knew going in that I had to play aggressive, I knew I had to go for my shots.”
“Nothing really surprised me, to be honest,” Wozniacki said to media. “Coco obviously has been playing a lot of matches on the big courts.”
“Obviously I’m disappointed now,” Wozniacki said to open her news conference. “I wanted to make it further into the tournament. But, you know, all in all, I think I put up a good display this week in general. I think I played pretty well throughout consistently.”
“My serve in the first and third sets let me down a little bit. I don’t feel like I had the same pop as I had some of the other days. So that’s something I’m going to work on.”
“Well, I wanted to see with these three events that I came back and played this year, I wanted to see kind of where I was tennis-wise, where I was physically and everything else. I think I’ve learned a lot from that.
“I think I’m exactly where I want to be. There’s still a few things that I want to work on and I can do better. But in general I think it’s very positive. I think every event that I played, I played a little better. Every match I played here, I played a little bit better each time. A lot of positives I can bring with me.
“Obviously I think my experience makes me believe that even if I’m not playing week in, week out, that I can still go out there and play my best tennis when I’m out there on court.”
“She’s incredibly fit,” Gauff said of her opponent. “That’s how she won a lot of her matches when she was — I don’t even know if it’s prime or not. I think she’s playing great tennis.
“It’s kind of hard for me to speak on it to before because I never played her, never practiced with her. Honestly, when I was watching her, I was a young person so I don’t think I understood the game as much as I do now.
“I know she probably has the reputation back then for being kind of a counter-puncher, playing back. I think today she was doing a little bit of that, but I also think she was playing more aggressive. I think she was hitting her forehand down the line really well. It caught me in some moments, probably something I wasn’t expecting.
“Yeah, I think the fitness that she has, usually with most players I know that I can outlast them. Today I was confident that I could against her, but it was definitely, like, I don’t know. The beginning you’re thinking she’s coming back, maybe she’ll get tired. I didn’t feel that at all.
“I think really I just started to raise my level. But I don’t think the match was based off the fitness of her getting tired, whereas some of my opponents hit a wall. Today I think I just played better.
“I think she’ll be a top contender, probably a seed, by the end of this year, to be honest, for the Australian Open.”
Gauff will play the winner of the match between No. 1 Iga Swiatek and and No. 20 Jelena Ostapenko for place in the final four.
On possibly playing Swiatek:
Yeah, I mean, she’s a tough opponent. I think especially in the Grand Slams she hits an extra gear.”
On playing Ostapenko:
“With Jelena, she’s a striker, ball-striker. I lost to her in Australian Open this year. She’s hot or cold, to be honest. Same thing, honestly. Just staying in the match. I might get some more free points with her, more so than Iga. Maybe not. Maybe she’ll hit so many winners.
“Really, both of them are tough opponents to be ready to face.”
In one of the lighter moments from her news conference Gauff told the media a couple of stories about the newest coaching addition to her team Brad Gilbert, former pro and former coach of both Andy Roddick and Andy Murray.
“The guy has offered me Jolly Ranchers,” she said. “I don’t know if you knew this. My favorite Brad story is he played pretty much every match with a Jolly Rancher in his mouth. He’s been giving me Jolly Ranchers all the time. I take them but I don’t eat them. At this point I can’t have Jolly Ranchers every five minutes. So that’s my favorite Brad story.
“He also doesn’t like even numbers. He only likes odd numbers. Whenever he says something, you ask him what time it is, he’s going to say 1:53 or 1:59. He won’t say 12 or something basic. That’s my favorite Brad story.
“He’s just a really quirky man. He doesn’t sleep. He wakes up at 3:30 every morning. He was doing this in D.C. He goes for walks. He also has been sending me crazy playlists of ’60s and ’70s bands, but I haven’t kept up with it.”
Jelena Ostapenko beat defending champion Iga Swiatek 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 in an hour-and 48 minute, to reach the final 8. She’ll play Coco Gauff next. After dropping the first set, the Latvian, former French Open champion from 2017 picked up her game and began to hit winners. Swiatek could not keep up with Ostapenko’s powerful shots. Swiatek will drop from the No. 1 spot and Aryna Sabalenka will rise to No, 1 for the first time, breaking the Pole’s 75 week streak at No. 1.
“There are, like, plenty of things that I know I should have done differently,” Swiatel said. “Maybe I’m not mature enough yet to do that.
“I’m really working hard to, like, not think about this stuff a lot. Sometimes when you force yourself not to think about stuff, the result is the opposite.
“I’m really happy that I have, like, smart people around me and they are telling me how to do it, and they are guiding me. But it’s on me to actually make it happen.
“For sure when I’m going to be next time in the same situation, I’m going to do some stuff differently because, yeah, it was a little bit stressful, and it shouldn’t be.
“I mean, tennis is stressful overall, but I should embrace it a little bit more. I’ll do it differently next time, so I guess that’s positive.”
“She plays well against me.” Swiatek said. “I mean, I don’t have any comparison because she always did that.
“But I’m just surprised that my level changed so drastically because usually when I play bad, I play bad at the beginning, then I kind of catch up or just problem solve. This time it was totally the opposite.
“I don’t really know what happened with my game. I felt no control suddenly. I just have to watch and see ’cause, yeah, I didn’t really know why I started making so many mistakes.”
Ostapenko is now 4-0 against the woman from Poland.
“I knew I had to be aggressive and play my game because that’s what she doesn’t like,” said the Latvian.
“I was just thinking that I have to play until the very last point, until we shake hands. I felt like I was playing better and didn’t give her many chances.”
“She’s won many Slams and she plays very consistent,” said Ostapenko. “I just went on court and I had to play aggressive because that’s what she doesn’t really like. In the third set, I stepped more in the court and I was serving better.”
“I felt like first set I didn’t play bad, but I was rushing a little bit. I was missing by like 10, 15 centimeters, not so much.
“The main thing, I was staying aggressive and playing my game. I started to feel much better my game in the end of the second set and especially in the third set.”
This will be Ostapenko’s first US Open quarterfinal when she plays Gauff.
Ostapenko’s thoughts on playing Gauff:
“Of course, it’s going to be a very tough match. She’s a great young player. I played her in Australia. It was a great match.
“I will try to focus on myself and enjoy it. It’s great to be in quarterfinals, especially here in New York.”