US Open 2022: Gauff, Garcia set up clash between first-time quarterfinalists

While American teenager Coco Gauff defeated China’s Zhang Shuai, in-form Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia defeated Alison Riske-Amritraj in fourth round of US Open.

American teenager Coco Gauff celebrates after beating China’s Zhang Shuai in fourth round of the US Open in New York on Sunday.

American teenager Coco Gauff celebrates after beating China’s Zhang Shuai in fourth round of the US Open in New York on Sunday. | Photo Credit: GETTY IMAGES

While American teenager Coco Gauff defeated China’s Zhang Shuai, in-form Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia defeated Alison Riske-Amritraj in fourth round of US Open.

American teenager Coco Gauff used her superior speed to overcome a second set deficit and pull off a thrilling 7-5, 7-5 win over China's Zhang Shuai to reach the quarterfinals of the US Open for the first time.

With Serena Williams' loss on Friday night likely signaling the end of her legendary career, American tennis fans are eager to see someone emerge in her place and many have put their hopes on the amiable, hard-serving Gauff.

"It feels insane," Gauff said in an on-court interview after sealing the win to set up a showdown with in-form Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia on Tuesday.

"I mean, Ashe Stadium chanting my name, I was trying not to smile on the bench on the last changeover, I was trying to stay in the moment. But in my head I was smiling.

"I can't believe you guys were chanting like that. It's crazy."

In a battle between the youngest player left in the draw, the 18-year-old Gauff, and the oldest, the 33-year-old Zhang, it was the Chinese player who looked sharper at the outset, breaking for a 2-0 lead in the first set.

But 12th seed Gauff kept her poise to break back and fired a two-handed backhand winner to claim the first set and electrify the supportive crowd.

Zhang, a human backboard content to extend rallies from the baseline, grabbed a 5-3 lead in the second when she broke Gauff with a backhand winner of her own.

But Gauff again showed maturity beyond her years, winning the last four games highlighted by an electrifying point in the final game where she used her astonishing speed to slide from corner to corner to elicit an error from Zhang.

The crowd roared in approval after the point and Zhang covered her ears to block out the sound, which was amplified by the closed roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium due to rain.

Gauff sealed the nearly two-hour affair on an error by Zhang and the two exchanged a warm hug at the net.

With the win, Gauff became the youngest US Open quarterfinalist since Melanie Oudin in 2009.

Gauff can expect her fans to return when she battles red-hot 17th-seed Garcia in the quarters after she defeated Alison Riske-Amritraj 6-4, 6-1.

Garcia believes “good things can happen again”

Garcia is beginning to believe "good things can happen again" in New York, after clawing her way out of a career slump to reach her first-ever US Open quarterfinal.

She notched her 12th straight win over Riske-Amritraj 6-4, 6-1 after becoming the first qualifier to win a WTA Tour 1000 event in Cincinnati, the final of three titles she's collected so far this year.

It's the culmination of a long road back for the former world number four, who returned from a foot injury in May ranked 79th, having not collected a singles title since 2019.

"I'm having fun, enjoying playing that way, and on top of it I'm glad it's working and it's a good way for me," she said.

Garcia said she experienced a critical epiphany at the Bad Homburg tournament in June, where she was down a set to Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the opening round and said to herself "You have to go for it."

"You miss, you miss, but you have to do something. You have to change, you have to find a way to improve," she told reporters in New York. "I was practicing to be aggressive, to move forward, but I had some issue to do it on court in matches, and that's where it changed, really in the second set of that first round.

"I went for it. I didn't know if it was going to work, but I believe."

She went for it indeed, beating former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu in the final to end her dry spell before reaching the last 16 at Wimbledon.

"I will say we were probably saying, 'Good things can happen again'," said Garcia, who was in such good form that she won in Warsaw in July, downing world number one Iga Swiatek in the process.

She's playing with joy in Flushing Meadows and on Sunday held her arms outstretched and beamed wildly after sending across eight aces and 30 winners to trounce the home hope.

To keep the party rolling she'll have to overcome an in-form Gauff, a fan favourite who reached the Roland-Garros final earlier this year.

"I got some tough years in there. I got some experience. We have been working hard to come back to the top level. I'm really glad to be at this level again. Really enjoying it," she said.

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