PARIS – Without seeds Barbora Krejcikova reached her first Grand Slam semi-final by coming back from an early deficit and beating the 17-year-old Coco Gauff 7-6 (6), 6-3 at the French Open on Wednesday.
Gauff led 3: 0 at the beginning, then 5: 3 and held a total of five set points at the beginning, but could not implement any.
Krejcikova took advantage and took that set by taking the last four points of the tie break. She then reeled off 15 consecutive points during a stretch, on the way to a 5-0 edge in the second set.
Sealing the most important victory of her individual career, however, was not easy: Krejcikova needed six match points and raised her arms when she finally won when Gauff sank a forehand wide.
Krejcikova is a 25-year-old Czech who has won two Grand Slam titles in doubles, but is only playing her fifth major tournament in singles and only made it to the fourth round once before. She currently ranks 33rd in her career and has a winning streak of 10 singles.
Number 24 seeded Coco Gauff carries a bat that she maimed after making one of her 41 unforced mistakes, including seven double mistakes. Adam Pretty / Getty Images
She finished the run of nine games of 24th placed Gauff, who lives in Florida and was the youngest French Open quarter-finalist since 2006. Gauff’s 41 casual mistakes included seven double faults – and after one, she mutilated her racket frame by hitting it against the ground three times.
Krejcikova will face one of the two defending champions on Thursday Iga Swiatek of Poland or No. 17 seeds Maria Sakkari of Greece, who were to play in the women’s final quarter-final match. The other semi-final is No. 31 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova Russia against unseeded Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia.
Gauff vs. Krejcikova started in the late morning with a temperature of low 70s Fahrenheit (low 20s Celsius), blue skies and no wind.
After the number of fans in the main stadium with 15,000 seats was capped at 1,000 for each of the first 10 days of the tournament due to COVID-19 restrictions, that limit was raised to 5,000 on Wednesday. And those present moved loudly for Gauff, who stormed onto the stage at Wimbledon two years ago when he reached the fourth round.
Shouts of “Allez, Coco!” (“Let’s go, Coco!”) Greeted their winners. Their service games were preceded by loud encouraging claps.
And Gauff gave these fans a great start and took a 3-0 lead after a dozen minutes, thanks in part to the first three points, which lasted at least 10 strokes, and two of Krejcikova’s eight double faults.
The contrast was striking when Krejcikova fell back on her way to pull even at 3-all when only a small polite applause was heard.
Gauff served 5-3 for the opening set and was a point away from taking it, but he backhanded. A double fault and a net backhand followed, which gave Krejcikova the break.
Gauff had two more setpoints while coming back and coming 6-5, but missed a backhand on the first and Krejcikova produced a backhand winner on the second.
Another two chances for Gauff to get this set came in the tiebreaker when the American led 6: 4. Again, Krejcikova was up to the task by erasing both of them by whipping out a pair of cross-court forehand winners and then using another winner from that wing to win that set.