LEXINGTON, KY, USA - Two games from defeat, American teenager Coco Gauff rallied for a thrilling victory over Ons Jabeur to round out the four semifinalists at the inaugural Top Seed Open presented by Bluegrass Orthopaedics.
Trailing 6-4, 4-2 against the No.8 seed and facing a break point for 5-2, the 16-year-old pulled off a thrilling comeback to seal a spot in her second career WTA semifinal, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.
Winning four straight games to send the match the distance - having also battled for nearly three hours in her second round win against No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka - Gauff later won the last five games of the match to finish the one-hour, 58-minute victory with a flourish.
"I'm always going to fight, no matter what, and try my best, no matter the score," Gauff said after the match.
"The biggest thing was mentality. Even though I wasn't playing the way I would've liked, I think staying strong and positive definitely kept me in the match today.
"The more matches I have, the more experience I get. The more different types of playing styles that I get to play against, the more I'll get used to that kind of style and how to approach the match.
"I would say I've exceeded my expectations, not so much the result but playing-wise. Getting as many matches as I can is the goal right now... I like playing under pressure and pressure is a privilege.
"I just enjoy it, and the tough matches are what make tennis fun, so I try my best to just rise to the occasion."
In the early stages of the quarterfinal clash, the teenager was a step behind Jabeur's variety, as the Tunisian showed off all the shots in her arsenal over the course of the match's first half-hour.
An early break in the third game stood up for the WTA World No.39, and though she was unable to convert two break points that would have given her a 5-2 lead in the set, she won eight straight points on serve to seal the opener with aplomb.
"I definitely hit a lot more slices and had my hitting partner hit more slices and drop shots in the warm-up and practice yesterday," Gauff said.
"Most of the drop shots, I was able to get to... I haven't had success in the past when I play crafty players and I try to out-craft them. Sometimes, I can come up with a shot or two, but that's not my typical style.
"I was just aiming higher towards the net, and focused on putting more balls in the court instead of just trying to finish the point early. I just tried to open up the court and give myself more chances to move forward."
From there, however, Gauff's effectiveness in returning the Tunisian's serves grew over the course of the match, thanks in part to the fact that Jabeur's first serve began to misfire.
Though the No.8 seed served eight aces for the match, five of them came in the opening set, in which she never faced a break point. She soon struggled with her consistency on that shot - which included missing all but three first serves in her three service games in the final set.
Not one to let her opportunities slip by, Gauff created a staggering 13 break point chances for herself across sets two and three, and converted on five in all to set up a meeting against fellow American Jennifer Brady.
"We've practiced together either last year or a year-and-a-half ago, a couple of times. She obviously has a heavy ball and a good serve, and she's going to take her chances," Gauff assessed of Brady, whom she's never played.
"I'm just looking forward to it, to be able to play and to get a different playing style than today. I know she likes her forehand, so we'll see what happens."