ROME -- World No.3 Coco Gauff held her head high after her performance at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, but there was no point in telling her that. The 20-year-old American enjoyed a resurgent fortnight in Rome but fell short against No.1 Iga Swiatek in the semifinals, losing 6-4, 6-3. 

The scoreline betrayed just how tightly Gauff played the 22-year-old Swiatek in their 11th career meeting, a 1-hour and 47-minute physical duel. But for the 10th time, Gauff fell short. And it hurt. 

"I would say from just this match, I feel more negative emotions right now," Gauff told reporters. "Looking at the whole tournament from where I started to now, I definitely feel like it's major improvement.

"Against probably anybody else today, I would have won the match. I wanted to be aggressive, which I felt like I did. I think I missed some balls in some clutch moments. That's what being aggressive is. I think if I continue to play in this way, I will be more consistent in that."

Gauff came into the tournament looking to set aside a series of tough three-set losses. The trend began in the Middle East, where she bowed out of Dubai to Anna Kalinskaya in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals of Indian Wells, she was edged out by Maria Sakkari, then Caroline Garcia in Miami, Marta Kostyuk on the clay in Stuttgart, and Madison Keys in Rome. 

But a gritty three-set win over Paula Badosa in the Round of 16 this week seemed to spark her confidence and purpose on the court. That was evident in her emphatic win over No.7 Zheng Qinwen in the quarterfinals. And it was there again on Thursday against Swiatek. 

"I think from the start of the clay till now, I feel like my confidence is definitely very high," Gauff said. "Like, it sucks to lose, but I know I lost playing the right way. I know that I'm a good player and that I can do better in those moments. I think I'm just trusting myself and my practice at that.

"I think the way that I lost today, it wasn't because a wing or a shot broke down, it's because she was the better player today. If I lose matches like that, we go back and we practice."

Gauff had a chance to leave Rome with the No.2 ranking, which would have put her opposite of Swiatek in the draw in Paris. Instead, she will remain at No.3, meaning she could face Swiatek in the semifinals if they're drawn in the same half. 

Never one to back down, Gauff is ready to face that challenge head on.

"I think going into Roland Garros, like if you asked me pre-tournament [vs.] now, I feel like I'm a different player in terms of just how I've been playing," she said.

"Going into it, I know she's the one to beat if I want to win Roland Garros. I'm going to take what I learned from today and try to apply that next time we play, which I hope is at Roland Garros."

Swiatek fends off Gauff to make third Rome final