Gauff Focused On Winning One Match At A Time At Roland-Garros

Coco Gauff (photo: Roland-Garros video)

PARIS/WASHINGTON, May 31, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

Coco Gauff has been nothing if not consistent in Paris. On Friday at Roland-Garros with the roof open over Court Philippe-Chatrier, the World No. 3 and third seed from the United States advanced to her fourth straight French Open fourth round.

Gauff joined Jennifer Capriati as the only the second American women in the Open Era to reach four consecutive Roland-Garros fourth rounds after defeating No. 30 seed Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine, 6-2, 6-4, in an hour and 34 minutes. It was Gauff’s second win over the Ukrainian this season after defeating her in straight sets at Madrid earlier this month.

In her first match outside after playing her first two rounds with the roof closed on Court Suzanne-Lenglen, Gauff overcame 24 unforced errors and two breaks of her serve – including as she was serving for the match at 5-2 in the second set –  to break Yastremska’s serve five times in 11 opportunities stretched over nine games, and outpointed he opponent 75-61. It was Gauff’s 11th career third-round win at the Grand Slams.

When she was asked by Tennis Channel‘s Jon Wertheim to describe her first week at Roland-Garros, Gauff said: “Rainy! I’m lucky I got to play on the courts with the roofs. It’s been so rainy I haven’t really done much.”

Indeed, as the Paris temperatures were breezy and cool (16 degrees Celsius) and, at times, the conditions damp on Day Six, Gauff caught a break and played when it was partly-sunny and dry outside.

Through her first week at Orlando-Garros, Gauff has played phenomenal tennis, in which she has not lost a set in her first three matches, against qualifier Julia Avdeeva, Tamara Zidansek and Yastremska.

“Now, it’s just one match at a time,” Gauff emphasized in her on-court interview with Marion Bartoli. “I think it’s important to stay in the moment. Obviously, I expect great things from myself but I try not to put too pressure [on myself], especially at [age] 20. I hope I’m still playing at least ten years from now. It’s a long process.”

Next, Gauff will face No. 51 Elisabeth Cocciaretto of Italy, who upset No. 17 seed Liudmila Samsonova, 7-6 (4), 6-2, in one hour and 39 minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

Sinner wins another in straight sets, remains in focus

World No. 2 and second seed Jannik Sinner remained unflappable in his 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 56 Pavel Kotov of Russia. Sinner maintained his perfect sets-won record in this Parisian fortnight as he garnered his third straight-set win in two hours and 27 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

In a match characterized by clean ball striking from both players, Sinner won 79 percent of his first-serve points, hit 36 winners to 21 unforced errors and saved the only break point he faced from Kotov. Sinner broke his opponent’s serve three times in 13 tries and outpointed the Russian 98-84 to improve to 31-2 on the season.

“I just tried to stay very focused on my game. Thanks [to the crowd] for all the support, it’s amazing to play here on this court. I really enjoy it,” Sinner said in his on-court interview.

Later, in his post-match news conference, Sinner added: “Tennis-wise I felt quite good today on court. Physically I feel like I still have to improve a couple of things. It’s very important to rest, especially tomorrow. I’m trying to be ready for the next round.”

Next, Sinner will play No. 79 Corentin Moutet of France, the only Frenchman left in the men’s draw. Moutet reached the fourth round at Roland-Garros for the first time by defeating No. 45 Sebastian Ofner of Austria, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-1, in two hours and 47 minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen with the roof closed. The match was originally scheduled for outside at Court Simonne-Mathieu but was moved because of weather concerns, much to the delight of French fans.

Swiatek celebrates 23rd birthday with a big win and cake too!

World No. 1 and two-time defending champion Iga Swiatek celebrated her 23rd birthday in high style Friday afternoon in Paris on Court Philippe-Chatrier. The Polish superstar and four-time major champion earned a relatively stress-free 6-4, 6-2 win over No. 42 Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic to move into the fourth round for the sixth straight year. It contrasted her emotionally charged three-set comeback win over four-time major champion Naomi Osaka on Wednesday.

“Honestly, I think this is the advantage of having one day off because sometimes it’s harder to, you know, keep the routine or something, but this time actually it helped because yesterday I wasn’t even practicing, also because of the rain,” Swiatek said following her Friday triumph.

“So, yeah, I could reset, and I could also rest physically because this match was for sure demanding. I felt good today. Like, I can just proceed with having a solid tournament even though I was in trouble against Naomi for sure.”

In a first-time meeting against Bouzkova that was over in 93 minutes, Swiatek hit 43 winners, broke her opponent’s serve four times and was ahead on total points 63-44 by the conclusion. She won seven of the last nine games of the third-round match.

Next, Swiatek will play face No. 41 Anastasia Potapova of Russia, who came 0-4 down in the opening set to beat No. 37 Wang Xinyu of China, 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-4.

Italian Arnaldi shows why he’s a star in the making

Although World No. 2 Jannik Sinner is garnering much of the attention among Italian men’s players, No. 35 Matteo Arnaldi is starting to make a name for himself.

The 23-year-old native of Sanremo pulled off the first big upset of the men’s draw on Friday with his 7-6 (6), 6-2, 6-4 victory over World No. 6 and sixth seed Andrey Rublev of Russia in two hours and 33 minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen for his 18th victory of the season and eighth on clay. He played an incredible three sets of tennis to advance to the fourth round of Roland-Garros for the first time and fourth round of a major for the second time.

Coupled with an earlier win by Italian Elisabetta Cocciaretto over a seeded Russian opponent, it made it a day of upsets for Italy over Russia on Friday.

Arnaldi struck 47 winners, including 13 aces, made just 19 unforced errors and converted five of 13 break-point chances against Rublev. He outpointed his opponent 116-94.

“I think I played, for sure, the best tennis of my life,” Arnaldi said in his on-court interview. “To win three straight [matches] at a Slam … I wasn’t even expecting it. … I think I used the right tactics to put the pressure [on Rublev] to win today. It worked very well.”

Next for Arnaldi in the fourth round will be a match-up against No. 9 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who defeated No. 44 Zhang Zhizhen of China, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1, in one hour and 31 minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen to reach the fourth round at Roland-Garros for the sixth consecutive year.

Around Roland-Garros

• A day after 125th-ranked qualifier Olga Danilovic posted her second career Top-10 win – and first in six years – in her 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-4 upset of No. 11 seed Danielle Collins, the 23-year-old Serbian reached the fourth round at Roland-Garros for the first time by pulling off another upset victory.

On Court Simonne-Mathieu, Danilovic rallied after losing the opening set 6-0 and pulled out a match tie-break victory over No. 40 Donna Vekic of Croatia, 0-6, 7-5, 7-6 (10-8), in three hours and eight minutes.

Danilovic overcame 56 unforced errors to hit 44 winners. Although she was outpointed by Vekic, 128-119, Danilovic persevered. She won with her heart and emotions – and with the outpouring of cheers from the crowd, too. Danilovic was unabashedly crying by the end after securing match point.

“I don’t know what to say, I have no words,” Danilovic said in her on-court interview, as the crowd chanted “Olga, Olga!”

“Thank you so very much for supporting me during the match. I am enjoying my time here so much. I honestly don’t know how I won this match. … I’m just so happy. Thank you everyone.”

Next, Danilovic will face No. 5 seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, who defeated 136th-ranked French wild card Chloe Paquet, 6-1, 6-3, on Court Simonne-Mathieu.

• Two-time Grand Slam champion and this year’s No. 3 seed Carlos Alcaraz of Spain prevailed in Friday’s featured night match on Court Philippe-Chatrier under closed roof. The World No. 3 Alcaraz beat No. 27 seed Sebastian Korda of the United States, 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-3, in two hours and 39 minutes.

Alcaraz earned his eighth consecutive appearance in the second week of a major by outpointing Korda 119-95, which included 38 winners and winning 15 of 21 exchanges at the net. The 21-year-old Spaniard repeated his straight-set win over Korda from the third round of the 2022 French Open. The victory improved his record to 35-0 at Grand Slams against players ranked outside the Top 20.

Next, Alcaraz will oppose either No. 15 seed Ben Shelton of the United States or No. 21 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, whose third-round match was suspended by rain during the first set Friday evening and will be resumed on Saturday.

• World No. 9 Ons Jabeur, the self-proclaimed Tunisian “Minister of Happiness,” celebrated her 6-4, 7-6 (5) win over No. 31 seed Leylah Fernandez of Canada with fist pumps galore on Court Suzanne-Lenglen. The one-hour, 53-minute closed-roof victory earned her a second-week berth against Denmark’s Clara Tauson, who in back-to-back matches has taken out a former Roland Garros champion, this year’s No. 9 seed Jelena Ostapenko, and a former Roland-Garros finalist, Sofia Kenin. On Friday, No. 72 Tauson defeated No. 56 Kenin, 6-2, 7-5.

Jabeur is through to the French Open fourth round for the fourth time.

“Just reminding everyone that I’m still here,” Jabeur said after her ninth win of the season evening her record at 9-9. “It’s also nice to prove for myself, because I’ve been in a bad place for months trying to get back and gain back my confidence. But, again, to be in the second week, it’s really important for me and for the hard work that I did.”

• Inclement weather forced tournament organizers to call off outside play for the evening at 9:15 p.m. Paris Time. There were three men’s third-round singles matches in progress that will be resumed on Saturday, including No. 15 seed Ben Shelton against 21st seed Felix Auger-Aliassime on Court 7, with the Canadian serving for the first set at 5-4. Also, No. 8 seed Hubert Hurkacz leads Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 7-6 (0), 2-1 deuce on Court Simonne-Mathieu; and on Court 14, No. 10 seed Grigor Dimitrov is ahead of Zizou Bergs 6-3, 2-1.

• Both No. 1 seeds in the men’s and women’s doubles advanced to the second round after rain scrubbed the start of doubles play the last two days.

In the men’s draw, No. 1 seeds Marcel Granollers of a Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina defeated French pair Adrian Mannarino and Fabrice Martin, 6-2, 6-2. They will play Alexander Erler and Lucas Miedler of Austria in the second round. The Austrian duo beat French wild cards Quentin Halys and Nicolas Mahut, 6-4, 6-4.

In the women’s draw, No. 1 seeds Hsieh Su-Wei of Taiwan and Elise Mertens of Belgium advanced over Shuko Aoyama of Japan and Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia, 6-1, 7-6 (3).

Friday’s Roland-Garros results

Saturday’s Roland-Garros order of play

By the numbers

At age 20, Coco Gauff has registered 18 wins at Roland-Garros, one more than Chris Evert did before turning 21.

“Quotable …”

During his on-court interview with Fabrice Santoro, Jannik Sinner was asked: “As a kid you did a lot of skiing at international level. Do you still ski a bit when you have time in winter?”

Sinner replied: “For the day after Christmas, me and my friends go to ski. This is a tradition. I’m happy sometimes to go on the skis. But I have to be very careful. I don’t want to lose my tennis career. My team is always very concerned when I go. But I have to. It’s in my blood.”