Coco Gauff had pulled off a string of heroic wins to reach her first semifinal since last August, and she nearly did it again to reach her first WTA 500 final, but Belinda Bencic was too good in the third set of their semifinal clash at the Adelaide International on Friday night, winning, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (4), 6-2.
Gauff battled to three-set victories in all three of her main draw wins to reach the semis, including rallying from 6-2, 4-2 down—and 4-2 down in the third—to beat Shelby Rogers in the quarterfinals, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. She even dug out of a 6-3, 3-0 hole to beat Kaja Juvan in the qualies, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.
And after going down 7-6 (2), 4-1 to Bencic, Gauff began gathering steam again—she fought off a match point at 3-5, served to stay in the match at 5-6 and jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second set tie-break. Bencic caught back up to 4-3 but Gauff regained control to send the match to a decider.
The No. 2-seeded Bencic regrouped, though, breaking straight away in the first game of the third and getting a second break for 4-1, and the two players held from there until it was all over.
“I’m super relieved,” Bencic said afterwards. “I have huge respect for Cori Gauff—at this age she’s really impressive. At times I didn’t really know what to do anymore. I just tried to fight the best as I can.”
Despite the loss, Gauff can take a lot of positives away from her week. She came into Adelaide having lost first or second round at her last eight events—she not only ended that run by reaching the semifinals, but this was also her biggest semifinal to date, her previous semis all coming at 250s.
The 16-year-old American is also projected to break the Top 40 for the first time on Monday.
Awaiting Bencic in the final will be the No. 5 seed, Iga Swiatek, who beat Jil Teichmann in the first semifinal of the day, hitting 17 winners to 12 unforced errors—and fighting off the only break point she faced in nine service games—to cruise to a 6-3, 6-2 victory after an hour and 18 minutes on court.
She won the last five games in a row from 2-1 down in the second set to close it out.
“I feel solid, and that’s the most important part for me,” Swiatek said in her on-court interview after the match. “When I’m playing well I’m just enjoying everything. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll also play well.”
Swiatek, who has now won 15 of her last 17 matches since the start of Roland Garros, will be playing her third WTA final. She’s 1-1 in her first two, winning her first Grand Slam title in Paris in 2020 but finishing runner-up at a WTA 250 on clay in Lugano, Switzerland in 2019, to Polona Hercog.
Bencic is 4-6 in her career in WTA finals, all four of her career titles coming at the 500-level or higher: two 1000s (2015 Toronto and 2019 Dubai) and two 500s (2015 Eastbourne and 2019 Moscow).
Bencic and Swiatek will be playing against each other for the first time.