National

Gauff, McNally set up all-U.S. French Open girls' final

Arthur Kapetanakis | June 08, 2018


For the fourth time in the last five junior Grand Slams, two young Americans will contest the girls’ singles final. On Saturday, it will be 14-year-old Cori “Coco” Gauff against Caty McNally, 16, as both seek their first junior Slam title.

 

Gauff (pictured above, left), the No. 16 seed, has not dropped a set in Paris, mirroring her dominant run to the US Open girls’ final in 2017. On that occasion, she fell to Amanda Anisimova, who now plays exclusively on the pro tour and recently made headlines by defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Petra Kvitova to reach the fourth round at Indian Wells.  

 

Though Florida resident Gauff will once again be significantly younger than her opponent, she will enter this matchup as the favorite, according to her seeding and the world junior ITF rankings. 

 

For McNally (above, right), it will be her first junior Slam final, with her best previous result coming in a quarterfinal run at last year’s French Open, where she lost to eventual champion and current junior world No. 1 Whitney Osuigwe. 

 

The unseeded McNally is currently the No. 36 junior in the world, though her ranking will improve as a result of her performance in Paris. She joins Gauff, ranked No. 20, among the 20 American girls in the Top 100. 

 

McNally’s path to the final went through top-seeded En-Shuo Liang of Chinese Taipei. The Cincinnati native got past the junior world No. 2 in three sets in the round of 16, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5. Her second-round match was even tighter, requiring a third-set tiebreak in a comeback victory after she dropped the opener.  

 

Gauff also notched a big upset in the round of 16, when she took out No. 2 Xinyu Wang of China, 6-4, 6-4. In Friday’s semifinals, she beat Canada’s Leylah Annie Fernandez, the No. 15 seed, to knock off her third seed in as many matches. 

 

Meanwhile, McNally survived a must-win second-set tiebreak against Iga Swiatek, her Polish doubles partner, before closing out a 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 victory. The semifinal opponents came together as teammates later on Friday, when they secured a straight-sets victory in the girls’ doubles semis.

 

Saturday’s singles final will be the first career meeting between Gauff and McNally. The winner will become the fifth American girls' singles champion in the last seven majors, a run of success that has not been seen since 1980-81, and the ninth American junior singles champ – boy or girl – since 2015.  

 

In boys’ Roland-Garros action, Sebastian Korda fell two matches short in his bid to win consecutive junior Slam titles after lifting the trophy at the Australian Open in January. The world No. 2 junior fell to Chun Hsin Tseng of Chinese Taipei in Friday’s semifinal. 

 

Brandon Nakashima, the 2018 International Spring Championships winner, also made a strong showing on the red clay, as he reached the quarterfinals in the boys’ draw.  

 

As the French Open reaches championship weekend, the U.S. is guaranteed at least one trophy winner with a girls' champion, with Sloane Stephens vying to make it two, when she takes on Simona Halep in the women's singles final.

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