Coco Gauff’s dream run at the French Open came to an end on Wednesday when she was defeated 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 by Barbora Krejcikova.
The 17-year-old was in her first grand slam quarterfinal, but after double-faulting in the second set and trailing 4-0, Gauff smashed her racquet on the clay court.
Gauff kept her opponent close in the first set, forcing Krejcikova to rely on a dramatic tiebreak to win the match.
The Czech player put more pressure on her younger opponent in the second set, winning the first five games without reply.
But the American belied her age by saving multiple match points and winning three straight games to make things tense before Krejcikova won the decisive ninth game of the second set to advance to the semifinals.
“I never imagined I would be standing here one day,” the 25-year-old Krejcikova said on court after her victory.
“Already for me this is something I have never dreamed of. I was really playing a great match and Coco is incredible — she is 17, it’s amazing.”
Both players were in the quarterfinals of their first career grand slam singles tournament. Gauff had made history by becoming the youngest woman to reach a grand slam quarterfinal since 2006.
The 17-year-old Gauff didn’t look out of place on the big stage on Court Philippe Chatrier, despite her age.
In the first set, the No. 24 seed led 3-0 and 5-3, but Krejcikova fought back, saving five match points on her way to a 72-minute victory.
The match’s turning point, according to Gauff, was losing the first set.
“I’m obviously disappointed that I wasn’t able to close out the first set,” she told the media after. “To be honest, it’s in the past, it already happened. After the match, my hitting partner told me this match will probably make me a champion in the future. I really do believe that.”
Gauff reacts during her quarterfinal match against Krejcikova in the women’s singles.
Some of Krejcikova’s singles success, she believes, stems from a shift in perspective during the Covid-19 shutdown.
“Seeing that there are also other things in the world that actually are happening,” she said. “[That] are tougher and more difficult than just me playing tennis and losing.
“It just got to my mind. I’m like, Well, I go and I play tennis and I lose, but there are actually people that are losing their lives. I just felt more like, Well, just relax because you are healthy. Just appreciate this and just enjoy the game. You can do something what maybe other people would like to do as well but they cannot.”
For a spot in the final at Roland Garros, Krejcikova will face either defending champion Iga Swiatek or Maria Sakkari of Greece.