Gauff, 18, needed 90 minutes to defeat Stephens on the clay court at Roland Garros in Paris. For Gauff, the 18th seed, it was her first win over Stephens, who beat Gauff last year in the second round of the U.S. Open.
Stephens went down a break at 2–0 early in the first set but rebounded to tie the match. With Stephens serving down 6–5, however, Gauff quickly jumped to a 40–0 lead. Stephens fought back to win a point, but Gauff closed the match on her opponent’s next serve.
It was the second straight appearance in the French Open quarterfinals for Gauff, who lost to eventual champion Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic.
“Last year, I think I was too focused on trying to fulfill other people’s expectations,” Gauff said in an on-court interview. “Last year in the quarterfinal, it was a tough loss for me, and I think that match really made me stronger to better prepare for moments like today and the moments that I will face in the next round.”
Against Stephens, Gauff wasn’t perfect, hitting 18 winners to 23 unforced errors. But she pressured Stephens into 31 errors against 16 winners and broke her serve six times—four of the breaks coming in the second set.
In the semifinals, Gauff on Thursday will face unseeded 28-year-old Martina Trevisan of Italy, who is ranked No. 59 in the world—her career high. Trevisan knocked out reigning U.S. Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez of Canada 6–2, 6–7 (3), 6–3 in two hours, 21 minutes to qualify for her first-ever Grand Slam semifinal.
For Trevisan, it was her 10th straight match win. She won her first career title last week at the ATP 250 event in Morocco.
Against Fernandez, the 17th seed, Trevisan’s forehand was especially precise. She had 43 winners compared with 29 for Fernandez, and had only 29 unforced errors. Fernandez committed 44 errors.
Trevisan said the win in Morocco boosted her confidence for a run at Roland Garros.
“I felt a little nervous on the first match point. But afterward, I accepted the situation. To be close to a semifinal, I realized it was normal to feel that way,” Trevisan said.