Caroline Garcia qualified for her first Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open on Tuesday by dominating American Coco Gauff in an Arthur-Ashe arena where she had to manage a “bit of a hostile atmosphere”.
How did you get to grips with the context, playing against an American on the huge Arthur-Ashe court?
It was not easy, the atmosphere was a bit hostile! We expected it, I was ready, but you never know how bad it’s gonna be. The night session, it moves a lot, there is a lot of noise, basic, and each time she made good points, or that there were important plays, there was really an energy which went up. The goal was to be focused on yourself and to play my game. My first game was not super clean, but there were important points and I managed to break it from the start. She served pretty well, very strong, but I was there. It’s important to get off to a good start to put pressure on the opponent from the start (…) I went on the court before the first quarter-final, during the warm-up, to feel a bit of the atmosphere, because I hadn’t had the opportunity to train there and I hadn’t seen a single match there this year. But there were no Americans and the atmosphere was not special. But I wanted to see, it’s a very impressive court, especially with the roof closed. He is huge. That way I was less surprised when I walked in for my match.
You are going to play your first Grand Slam semi-final at 28, how do you feel?
I’m super happy, it’s another step in my career. I work hard for it, I dreamed about it, and today we can check it in the list. There are new challenges coming up and the charm of tennis is that it never stops if you don’t have a limit in your head.
You’ve known your next opponent, Ons Jabeur, since your junior days. What do you expect?
We faced each other in the semi-finals at Roland-Garros and in other junior tournaments. She always had this special game. It was very rare, in juniors, to play against someone who made so many drop shots, so many backhand slices. She was already very difficult to play. And now she is even more so. She is in the world Top5, she reached the final at Wimbledon… She has improved a lot. But it’s nice to see that we have reached the highest level and that we continue to progress. She stopped me several times on the road to a Grand Slam title as a junior and I can’t wait to play against her again.