Gauff reaches first Grand Slam quarter-final & Sakkari knocks out Keninon June 7, 2021 at 4:34 pm
Teenager Coco Gauff reaches a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time and Maria Sakkari knocks out 2020 finalist Sofia Kenin
American Gauff, who won the 2018 junior title here, dominated Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur to win 6-3 6-1.
Greece’s Maria Sakkari knocked out last year’s runner-up and fourth seed Sofia Kenin 6-1 6-3, while Barbora Krejcikova thrashed Sloane Stephens 6-2 6-0.
It means eighth seed Swiatek is the highest ranked woman left.
The Polish defending champion, 20, beat Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk 6-3 6-4 and will face Sakkari on Wednesday.
Kostyuk, 18, was the first to break, but Swiatek quickly imposed herself on the first set, breaking the Ukrainian twice.
Trading breaks in the second set, Swiatek’s serving did all the damage as she gained the upper hand to stay on track to become the first woman since Justine Henin in 2007 to defend the Roland Garros title.
Earlier Sakkari, 25, surged to a 4-0 lead over Kenin and although the 22-year-old American rallied to get one of the breaks back, the Greek broke once more before clinching the first set, serving to love.
Kenin rallied at 1-5 down, saving a match point, and then breaking a nervous Sakkari, who made no mistake with her second match point.
As the 2020 Australian Open champion, Kenin did not enjoy any of the build-up to defending her first major, and it seemed defending runner-up points from late last year had the same effect.
“I’m obviously disappointed today. It’s definitely not the match that I wanted to play. I feel like nerves got the better of me,” she said.
For Sakkari the whole process is a new experience, having previously never advanced past the third round at a Slam, and more importantly she bettered her mother Angeliki Kanellopoulou’s Grand Slam record of twice reaching the third round at Roland Garros.
“She actually messaged me and said, ‘I’m so sad you broke my tournament best record.’ Obviously, it was sarcastic and she was joking,” Sakkari said.
“I think she’s proud of me, and she’s enjoying her time, as well, watching me and watching me enjoying my tennis.”
Gauff ‘super happy’ to reach first major quarter-final
Gauff, 17, widely tipped as a future major champion, beat Jabeur in just 53 minutes and has yet to drop a set at the tournament.
“I am super happy to reach my first Grand Slam quarter-final. I played really well today,” said the American, who dropped just nine points on serve against 26th-ranked Jabeur.
At 17 years and 86 days old, Gauff is the youngest woman to reach the last eight of a Slam in the singles since Nicole Vaidisova, who was 17 years and 44 days old when she played in the French Open quarter-finals in 2006.
She stormed into the spotlight two years ago when, as a 15-year-old, she beat former champion Venus Williams in the first round at Wimbledon.
Following that victory, and a breakthrough run where she reached the fourth round, Gauff was described as a “champion in the making” by former players.
She has since has risen to a career high of 25 in the world and beat defending champion Naomi Osaka in the third round of the Australian Open last year.
She has won two WTA titles – one on hard court, one on clay – and has reached the fourth round at three of the four majors.
Only world number one Ashleigh Barty, Aryna Sabalenka and Veronika Kudermetova have won more matches than Gauff in 2021.
Gauff will face Krejcikova in the next round after the Czech overwhelmed American former finalist Stephens in 70 minutes.
While Krejcikova is appearing in her first Grand Slam singles quarter-final, she has won doubles titles at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.
Where are all the seeds in Paris?
The women’s draw at Roland Garros has been beset with top-seed casualties, including Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal, Ashleigh Barty’s retirement through injury and Serena Williams’ fourth-round defeat.
Only three of the women’s top 10 were still in the draw at the end of the first week and now only one remains – Swiatek.
Other than Swiatek and Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, no other player in the last eight has been this far in the singles of a Grand Slam.
Roland Garros has produced five maiden Grand Slam champions in the last five years and this year it will offer us a guarantee of one new finalist from the lower section of the draw, with Williams’ conqueror Elena Rybakina the highest seed left in that section, at number 21.
The Kazakh takes on 31st seed Pavlyuchenkova on Tuesday, with 33rd seed Paula Badosa of Spain and Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek in action in the day’s other women’s quarter-final.