Gauff out to halt Trevisan's streak in RG rematch

 - Alex Sharp

The pair will shoot for a maiden Grand Slam final after stellar performances in Paris

Martina Trevisan, Coco Gauff, Roland Garros 2020 second round© Julien Crosnier/FFT

For Thursday's semi-final rivals, Coco Gauff and Martina Trevisan, Paris just brings an extra spring in their step.

A 14-year-old Gauff captured the Roland-Garros junior singles title in 2018 in her "favourite city", before making a maiden Grand Slam quarter-final at the women's event here last summer at 17.

For Trevisan, the Italian enjoyed a fairytale run from qualifying all the way to the last eight at Roland-Garros in 2020.

This fortnight, the pair are bringing a serious level of tennis; Gauff hasn’t dropped a set yet en route to the semis, whilst Trevisan only surrendered one her last time out against Leylah Fernandez.

World No.59 Trevisan let a match point slip in the second set versus the Canadian teenager, regrouping to secure 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-3 on the scoreboard, all with a cheek-to-cheek smile.

“I looked around me and I was in the most important court in the world. Even I felt a lot of tension and I was so nervous because even my arms felt it,” reflected the 28-year-old, named after legendary fellow left-hander Martina Navratilova.

“It was normal to feel the tension because I was playing for my first semi-final, and I was in the match point. I just accepted the situation and I tried to be focused on every point.”

It’s a similar perspective for teen sensation Gauff, who has shrugged off incessant outside noise to play for herself, to make sure her tennis is about adapting, and also about joy.

“I think ever since I joined the tour, or even eight years old, the next Serena, next this, next that, and I think I really fell into the trap of believing that,” said Gauff with a grin, noting how “having fun” has been the key to her Parisian progress.

“It's important that you have high hopes for yourself, but at the same time, it's important to be in reality and I think that's where I am. I'm in reality where I'm enjoying the moment and enjoying the situation.

“I felt like I was to the point where even when I made the second week or beat Naomi (Osaka) at Australian Open, I remember I was happy but I wasn't that happy because I felt like that's what I should do. Whereas now I'm really appreciating each win and loss."

Don’t be fooled, these warm characters are also fierce competitors, realising the chance ahead of them. 

“I fight for every point,” continued world No.23 Gauff.

“I feel like a lot of my losses in the past were due to mental errors of just getting used to being on tour and getting used to playing these intense matches. I feel like now mentally I'm in a great place.”

Trevisan, who has built a 10-match winning streak having been crowned Rabat champion a fortnight ago, is hoping to harness her pure passion on court.  

“I like the fight. I like the adrenaline. I like the moment before I get in the court, because there was a lot of energy,” stated the unseeded Italian. “So that's all things that make you alive. 

“I'm playing very well. I played a lot of matches. I think I'm playing my best tennis, but I think could be better. I'm very looking forward what there is in the future.”

During Trevisan’s captivating course to the last eight in 2020 she edged Gauff 7-5 in the second-round deciding set. A lot has changed for both players since then, particularly for the American teenager, who will return to the top-20 on Monday.

“I remember that match pretty clearly. I think I was in double digits with double faults. I'm not going to do that this time around,” insisted the 18-year-old, who advanced to the final four with a commanding 7-5, 6-2 win over her compatriot Sloane Stephens.

“She's a tricky player to play on clay, a tricky lefty. We're both playing free tennis, and I think that's going to be a good match-up.

“I think a lot of the times when I play someone two or three times, even back in juniors, I would at least by the third time hopefully figured it out. I think it gives me confidence, losing to Sloane at US Open and winning here, losing to Naomi, to then win, and I lost to Trevisan, so I'm hoping the trend keeps going.”

Even though Gauff has reached a Grand Slam final in women’s doubles last September, this is uncharted territory for the duo. It’s about embracing the occasion from both competitors.

Earlier in the tournament Trevisan, the first Italian woman to reach the Roland-Garros semi-finals since Sara Errani in 2013, made the simple statement, “this is my moment”, and she evidently meant it.

“I think what’s important, who I am right now, that I'm happy on the court. I'm doing what I love. So my past is the past, and it help me to be in the present," said Trevisan.

Speaking well beyond her years, Gauff is abundantly clear on her approach.

“I feel like last year I was looking at the finish line, and now I'm not looking at anything really except that ball in front of me,” declared the No.18 seed.

“Going into the next match I'm just going to approach it the same. I care about the results, yes, but also at the same time I don't. If I gave it my all I'm not going to be upset.”