Gauff reaches first Slam singles quarterfinal at Roland Garros
Arthur Kapetanakis | June 7, 2021
Coco Gauff spoke about the "professional" nature of her 2021 Roland Garros run after she advanced to the Round of 16 for the third time at a Grand Slam. In her fourth-round match against Tunisia's Ons Jabeur, the 17-year-old was businesslike once again in a dominant 6-3, 6-1 victory. The American has yet to drop a set in Paris.
She called Monday's match her best of the tournament, adding that her overall level is the most consistent it's been at a Grand Slam.
"It definitely does feel different," she said of her smooth progress through to the last eight. "I just feel like it's been... professional. I feel like all my matches have been pretty straightforward wins, like no crazy three sets and stuff. As we know, I have had a lot of those in the past."
In a matchup of the tournament's No. 24 and 25 seeds, the higher-seeded Gauff prevailed in under an hour. ADVERTISEMENT She was dominant on serve, facing no break points in eight service games behind two aces and no double faults. She recorded an 81% win rate on first-serve points, and 71% on second deliveries. In press, Gauff spoke about the importance of turning her weaknesses into strengths, noting her second serve as a key area of improvement this fortnight: "I truly feel like I'm getting over that hurdle," she said.
The Delray Beach, Florida, resident jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first set, and broke immediately in set two to take command. She ultimately closed out the match by winning the final four games in a row.
Groundstroke depth was another key part of Gauff's game plan against the crafty Jabeur, and the American executed perfectly to counter her opponent's exceptional hands and ability to dominate with drop shots and slices. But tactics aside, the 2018 French Open girls' singles champion keyed in on her mentality as a major factor in breaking new ground at the Slams.
"I think I was just more hungry for it," she explained. "I feel like in the past, I felt like I was satisfied with the run I made in the tournament. So maybe I feel like I came into the matches, I guess, not as hungry. And I know it's probably not a good thing to say, but it's the truth.
"You know, my message has always been 'dream big and aim higher.' I think that today was honestly coming from that message of aiming higher, because I could have easily said I'm satisfied with fourth round and everything."
It will be back to business for Gauff on Wednesday, when she takes on the unseeded Barbora Krejcikova in the quarterfinals. The Czech took out Sloane Stephens in straight sets on Monday.
In a wide-open draw, just one of the seven current women's singles quarterfinalists has reached that stage at a major before. Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenova has played in six Slam quarterfinals, but has never advanced beyond there. Reigning French Open champ Iga Swiatek will take on Marta Kostyuk, who is playing in her first major fourth round, in Monday's evening session for the final spot.
Should Gauff advance to the semis, she would face either Maria Sakkari—a straight-sets winner over Sofia Kenin on Monday—or the winner of Swiatek's match.
Since turning 17 in March, Gauff has also reached the Italian Open semis and won both the singles and doubles (with Caty McNally) titles at the WTA 250 event in Parma, Italy. It would be an impressive run for a player of any age, but Coco's youth has made her headline material for much of the world's media—tennis and otherwise. In press, the youngest women's Grand Slam quarterfinalist in 15 years (since Nicole Vaidisova at the 2006 French Open) was asked about her thoughts on coverage that highlights her age.
"I mean, I don't really care if you guys talk about my age or not. I'm 17. That's the truth. If you guys want to talk about it, it's fine. I mean, on the court, I promise you my opponents probably don't care about how old I am. They want to beat me just as bad regardless of my age, and I want to beat them just as bad regardless of their age.
"I don't mind if you guys talk about my age. It's a fact to me and it's going to change every year. I mean, I'm only going to be 17 once, so you might as well talk about it while I'm 17."