French Open: Clinical Coco among American aces excelling while Swiatek swaggers

By Sports Desk June 05, 2021

Coco Gauff was given only a light workout as she led the American talents advancing at the French Open on Saturday.

Seventeen-year-old Gauff played compatriot Jennifer Brady but secured swift passage to round four as her opponent was forced to retire due to injury.

The teenager had produced a ruthless, relentless 19-minute opening set, winning 6-1 before Brady called a medical timeout.

She quickly made the call to withdraw, allowing Gauff to move on and continue her best run at a tournament she won as a junior in 2018. Ons Jabeur is next.

Gauff will be among four Americans in the last 16 after 2020 finalist Sofia Kenin came from behind to beat another compatriot in Jessica Pegula in three sets. Sloane Stephens overcame 18th seed Karolina Muchova in two.

AMERICAN ACES

There had been eight players from the United States in the third round at Roland Garros, with only Madison Keys – beaten by Victoria Azarenka on Friday – losing to a foreign opponent.

Stephens said: "I think obviously American women tennis is in a really great place. I think we all are having good results and everyone is playing well.

"Obviously, it's different. I think we're all friends. We're all very friendly. We all support each other. We all love seeing each other do well, which I think is really nice.

"It's great to have so many players in the top 100, just because we're just a super strong nation right now.

"I think that's also a very cool, super strong Fed Cup team. Everything that you would think of, we have, so I think that's really cool."

SVITOLINA SUFFERS

Stephens will face Barbora Krejcikova next after she claimed Saturday's biggest scalp, defeating fifth seed Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-2.

Krejcikova identified an epic battle at 4-3 in the opener as the "key game", staving off four break points to hold.

On Svitolina's serve, the Czech converted six of 13 opportunities and, despite breaking in the very first game, felt she improved as the match wore on.

"It was really tough because also I didn't know Elina that well," Krejcikova said. "I never played her, I never practiced [with] her.

"So I didn't really know, I wasn't really sure what kind of ball I should expect. I felt weird.

"But as the match went on and I was playing and playing, I just started to feel better, and actually at the end I was just feeling really well and I was just going for my shots."

SWIATEK SWAGGERS

Kenin has Maria Sakkari in the fourth round following her win over Elise Mertens, but the American could be excused for already having one eye on a potential quarter-final.

She is on course to meet defending champion Iga Swiatek, who beat Kenin in last year's final and is in supreme form again in 2021.

Anna Kontaveit broke Swiatek in the opening game of their clash but could not protect her advantage and was edged in a tie-break.

That set the stage for a devastating display of Swiatek's talent in which she claimed a bagel with only a single unforced error.

Despite the dominant nature of the second set, the Pole said: "It's good to have matches like that because it keeps you down to earth and you have to just be careful on every point and on every game."

Related items

  • Wimbledon: 'I've come a long way, that's for sure' – Kyrgios feels he is a changed man Wimbledon: 'I've come a long way, that's for sure' – Kyrgios feels he is a changed man

    Nick Kyrgios reflected on what he feels is a new-found maturity after defeating Brandon Nakashima to earn his spot against Cristian Garin in the Wimbledon quarter-final.

    The 27-year-old Australian needed five sets to make it past the 20-year-old American, eventually winning 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2.

    In a match that was far from smooth sailing, Kyrgios needed a medical timeout following the first set to deal with some shoulder discomfort that has flared up since his fiery win against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

    Speaking to the media after his success, Kyrgios said everyone is dealing with niggling injuries this deep into a grand slam, but he is proud of the way he has handled adversity this time around.

    "I woke up after Tsitsipas and had some shoulder pain," he said. "I’ve played so much tennis over the last month and a half that I felt it was about time for my body to start feeling some niggles. 

    "I don’t think anybody is feeling 100 per cent at this time, Rafa – you see him dealing with something all the time – so it’s something I just manage. Mentally, I think I deal with these things a lot better now. 

    "I knew today I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent, but mentally I stayed quite calm, knowing that I wasn’t able to serve full out for the five sets."

    His ability to fight through his injury was just one aspect of how Kyrgios feels he has grown as both a player and a person, touching on how far he has come since being dragged out of the pub by his manager in 2019.

    "I feel like I’ve been through so much, now I can stay composed," he said. "It’s the first time in my career that I wasn’t playing well, but I was able to say ‘wow, look how far I’ve come’ – It was rewarding. 

    "I think I’m enjoying the battle a bit more – I’m expecting everyone to play well against me now. I was that kid once, the underdog, whereas today walking on Centre Court being the favourite was completely different for me, but I was able to navigate that.

    "There was a time when I was having to be forced out of a pub at 4am to play Nadal [in the second round of 2019] – my agent had to come and get me out of a pub at 4am before I played my match on Centre Court, Wimbledon. 

    "So I’ve come a long way, that’s for sure… to sit here, quarter-finals at Wimbledon, feeling composed, mature, completely blessed and comfortable in my own skin."

    Having burst onto the scene at such a young age, Kyrgios said he feels he helped pave the way for the current generation of young stars.

    "This is almost my 10th year on Tour," he said. "I kind of feel like I was the first guy who broke through young, like at 19, beating Rafa at Wimbledon. 

    "I was the first young guy to show all the other guys – like Zverev and Thiem and stuff – that they could do it as well, I feel like I was the first one to break the mould. You look at guys like Alcaraz, Sinner who are just absolutely fearless. 

    "I think a lot of players think that Federer, Djokovic and Nadal are almost Gods and you can’t hurt them. I feel like I showed at least one of them was human that day."

  • Wimbledon: 'I don't moan, I love it!' – Kyrgios revels in controversy and laughs off criticism Wimbledon: 'I don't moan, I love it!' – Kyrgios revels in controversy and laughs off criticism

    Wimbledon quarter-finalist Nick Kyrgios admitted to having a "chip on his shoulder" but dismissed the suggestion he bemoaned the controversy that seems to follow him, insisting he "loves it".

    Two days on from an ill-tempered victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas that resulted in both players been fined, Kyrgios defeated 20-year-old Brandon Nakashima to progress to the quarter-finals of a grand slam for the third time in his career.

    It will be the Australian's first appearance in the last eight of the singles draw at a major since 2015 in Melbourne, however, with his other grand slam quarter-final showing having come at Wimbledon in 2014 – Kyrgios having beaten Rafael Nadal to reach that stage on that occasion.

    Cristian Garin of Chile is next up, after what was a reasonably well-mannered display against Nakashima, who Kyrgios was full of praise for.

    Yet he still managed to spark some contention on Monday, having wore a red cap and a pair of red Nike Jordan trainers during his post-match on-court interview, breaching Wimbledon's strict dress code.

    This was put to Kyrgios in his post-match news conference, with the journalist in question asking the 27-year-old if he thought he was above the rules.

    "Because I do what I want," Kyrgios replied. "I'm not above the rules. I just like wearing my Jordans. I'll wear some [Jordan] triple whites tomorrow.

    "Nobody else, even after Wimbledon, really walks with Jordans on the court. I don't moan [about controversy], I love it – more attention for me.

    "What's that saying? Any publicity is good publicity, right?"

    Kyrgios' fellow Australian Pat Cash said over the weekend that his compatriot had taken tennis to "the lowest level".

    Yet Kyrgios insists he now laughs off criticism, which he believes is a sign of how he has matured as a player.

    "Honestly, I don't care. I just smile. It's so funny. It's hilarious," he chuckled. "I almost just wake up and read things and just laugh.

    "I never forget things people might have said three, four years ago, they stick with me. I have a massive chip on my shoulder.

    "And I sit here now, quarter-finals of Wimbledon again, and I just know there's so many people that are so upset. It's a good feeling.

    "I don't think in the past when I’ve got this far in a grand slam, or played big matches, I used to be on my phone a lot, attached to technology, seeing everyone's opinions or highlights, but I feel like I'm able to switch off from that, and that's a big part of my growth. Being obsessed with my girlfriend helps!

    "I'm really able to just let that go, separate tennis and life, I think that's the most important thing."

  • Wimbledon: Nadal and Halep thrilled to partake in 'beautiful' Centre Court centenary celebrations Wimbledon: Nadal and Halep thrilled to partake in 'beautiful' Centre Court centenary celebrations

    Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep claimed victories on Centre Court on Monday, a day on from celebrating the venue's centenary.

    Nadal and Halep were among a host of champions, including Roger Federer and last year's winner Novak Djokovic, to stand on Centre Court on Sunday for a celebration of its 100th anniversary.

    A day later, they were back at the venue to seal their respective progressions to the quarter-finals.

    Halep, Wimbledon champion in 2019, defeated fourth seed Paula Badosa 6-1 6-2, while Nadal overcame Botic van de Zandschulp 6-4 6-2 7-6 (8-6).

    Of female players still competing on the WTA Tour, only Serena Williams (14) and Venus Williams (13) have reached more Wimbledon quarter-finals than Halep (five), who will face Amanda Anisimova in the last eight.

    Nadal, meanwhile, has now played 350 matches at grand slams – a total bettered only by Federer and Djokovic.

    The 22-time grand slam winner was made to work for victory in the third set by Van de Zandschulp, but having overcome a wobble, went on to secure his 18th straight major match win of 2022.

    Asked about being given the honour of taking to Centre Court on Sunday, Nadal said: "Yesterday was a beautiful thing sharing the court with legends of our sport.

    "Centre Court for 100 years is something very special."

    It was a sentiment echoed by Halep, who is looking to reach her first grand slam semi-final since the 2020 Australian Open and has not dropped a set so far at Wimbledon this year.

    "Definitely it was a place I wanted to be today. I think I played a great match," she said. "It was a pleasure to be back on Centre Court with this great crowd supporting me.

    "I missed it a lot, three years was a [long time].  Yesterday I was on the court with all the champions and it was amazing. I was more nervous than I was today."

    Next up for Nadal is Taylor Fritz, who beat the Spaniard in their last meeting in the final of the Indian Wells Masters earlier this season.

    While Nadal is into his eighth Wimbledon quarter-final – and his 47th at a grand slam, a tally that lags behind only Djokovic (53) and Federer (58) – Fritz has never reached the last eight of a major before.

    "In a personal way, for me to be able to be in quarter-finals after three years, it's amazing for me, so I'm very, very happy," said Nadal, who is hunting the calendar Grand Slam in 2022.

    "Every match is different," he added of his tie against Fritz, which he anticipates being tricky.

    "He is playing well and having a very good year, including a first Masters 1000 title, against me by the way, but we will be in the quarter-final of Wimbledon, so what should I expect?"

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.