Caroline Garcia never really let Coco Gauff — or the crowd — get fully involved in their US Open quarterfinal on Tuesday night.
From early on, Garcia played high-stakes tennis and put strokes where she wanted, sometimes right at Gauff’s feet, sometimes well out of reach. In contrast to the early success Gauff, still just 18, has experienced, it’s been a long journey for Garcia, who now gets to play in the first Grand Slam semifinal of her career at age 28.
The 17th-seeded Garcia took charge at the start and never relented in a 6-3, 6-4 victory over the 12th-seeded Gauff at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“I just go for my shots,” Garcia said, “even when I’m stressed.”
She had lost both of her two previous matches against Gauff, who was the runner-up at the French Open in June, but was by far the better player this time.
Garcia, who is from France, hasn’t ceded a set at Flushing Meadows so far this year and stretched her winning streak to 13 matches overall, solidifying her status as someone playing as well as anyone in women’s tennis at the moment.
She finished last season ranked 74th, but now is projected to rise into the top 10 next week.
“The last couple of months.” Garcia said, “I feel healthy again.”
She will face Wimbledon runner-up Ons Jabeur of Tunisia on Thursday with a berth in the final at stake.
“I’m looking forward to the next challenge and what I can achieve,” Garcia said.
Karen Khachanov eliminates Nick Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios could not quite follow up his victory over defending champion Daniil Medvedev at the US Open and lost in the quarterfinals to Karen Khachanov 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-4 at a rowdy Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The match began Tuesday night and concluded at about 1 am local time Wednesday. Early in the match, two spectators were kicked out after one gave the other a haircut in the stands.
By the end, the late-staying spectators were pulling for Kyrgios loudly. At one point in the fourth set, chair umpire James Keothavong pleaded: “Once again, ladies and gentlemen: Respect both the players.”
The No. 27-seeded Khachanov advanced to the first Grand Slam semifinal of his career. He had been 0-2 in major quarterfinals before this one against No. 23 Kyrgios.
“I did it! I did it, guys! Thank you. Now you’re giving me some love. I appreciate it,” Khachanov told the spectators who remained until the finish. “It was a crazy game. I was expecting it would be like this. I’m ready to run, to fight. … That’s the only way to beat Nick, I think.”
Khachanov will face No. 5 Casper Ruud on Friday for a berth in the championship match.
Casper Ruud improves to 12-2 in Grand Slam play in 2022
Casper Ruud headed into the 2022 season with just one Grand Slam appearance that lasted as far as the fourth round anywhere and was determined to improve his record at the four most important events in tennis.
Then, a day before the Australian Open began in January, he twisted his ankle in practice and needed to withdraw. Hardly ideal. Just look at him now: Ruud is into the semifinals at the US Open and has a shot at moving up to No. 1 in the ATP rankings, following a run to the final at the French Open.
The 23-year-old from Norway, who is coached by his father, former professional player, Christian, parlayed what he called “a better start than I ever had before in a match” to a 6-1, 6-4, 7 -6 (4) victory over 2021 Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini in the quarterfinals under a closed roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium on a rainy Monday.
“During Paris, something clicked, and I feel like I, this year, have sort of figured out the better way how to play five sets and knowing that it’s very different from playing best-of-three sets. … Sometimes realizing, or knowing, that you can sort of let one set go every once in a while to save some energy for the rest of the sets,” the No. 5-seeded Ruud said. “So I think I matured and learned how to play five sets better than I did last year.”
He improved to 12-2 in Grand Slam competition in 2022 after making just two unforced errors in the first set, 11 fewer than No. 13 Berrettini.
“Everything sort of went (in) my favor,” Ruud said. “I was hitting all the spots, all the shots that I needed to.”
Berrettini’s take: “After 20 minutes I was (down) 5-0. I don’t know how really. I don’t know what happened.”
Ons Jabeur eliminates player who beat Serena Williams
Ons Jabeur advanced to her first semifinal in New York with a 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over the player who beat Serena Williams in the third round, Ajla Tomljanovic.
Jabeur is the first woman representing an African nation to get to the final four of the US Open during the professional era, which began in 1968.
“Just trying to do my job and hopefully I inspire more and more generations from Africa,” Jabeur said. “It really means a lot to me.”
She said her run to the title match at the All England Club allowed her to “believe more in myself” and realize, “I had it in me that I can win a Grand Slam.”
As for chucking her racket during the match against Tomljanovic, Jabeur joked sheepishly that the equipment “kept slipping away from my hand.”
Serena Williams ratings bonanza for ESPN
Serena Williams was a smash hit in the ratings for her apparent final US Open match.
ESPN said Tuesday that Williams’ expected farewell to Flushing Meadows was the most-watched tennis telecast in the network’s 43-year history. Her loss last Friday to Ajla Tomljanovich drew 4.6 million viewers. The previous record of 3.9 million was for the 2012 Wimbledon final, when Roger Federer defeated Andy Murray, in ESPN’s first year with exclusivity.
The ratings peaked for the Williams match at 6.9 million viewers in the 10:15 pm quarter-hour as the match wound down. Through the first five days of the US Open, an average of 1.1. million viewers tuned in to ESPN networks, up 101% versus 2021. These are the most-viewed first five days of the US Open on record on ESPN networks.
Williams’ second-round victory over Anett Kontaveit averaged 3.6 million viewers.