Americans Coco Gauff and Sloane Stephens remained on a Parma final collision course after winning their Emilia-Romagna Open quarterfinals in straight sets Thursday.

The third-seeded Gauff prevailed in a battle of teenagers over No. 5 seed Amanda Anisimova, 6-3, 6-3, winning an impressive 18 of 30 first-serve return points to break her countrywoman six times. This marked the pair’s first match as professionals, having last met in the 2017 US Open junior girls’ final when a 16-year-old Anisimova overpowered a 13-year-old Gauff.

Gauff has now reached successive semifinals, following her first final-four appearance at a WTA 1000 event last week in Rome. With her performance this week, the 17-year-old has leapfrogged both Jessica Pegula and Alison Riske in the live rankings to become the No. 5-ranked American. And by doing so, has increased her hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, where up to four singles players per country can nominated. The cut off will be determined after Roland Garros, with Madison Keys currently occupying the No. 4 position.

For a place in the final, Gauff will meet Katerina Siniakova. Fresh off her victory over top seed Serena Williams, Siniakova took down another seed, No. 8 Caroline Garcia, 7-5, 6-1. The 25-year-old Czech lost to Gauff on home soil in Ostrava last year in the pair’s first encounter.




Stephens, who found herself ranked No. 65 coming into this week, has put together a solid string of victories. After outclassing Caty McNally and upstaging No. 4 seed Daria Kasatkina, the former US Open champion dispatched Sara Errani, 6-3, 6-0, in the pair’s first clash since the 2012 Miami Open.

Seeking her first title since triumphing in Miami three years ago, Stephens awaits the winner of Petra Martic and Wang Qiang.