PARIS, June 7 — American teenager Coco Gauff today became the youngest woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final in 15 years while Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal braced to face the future of tennis at the French Open.
Gauff swept to an impressive 53-minute, 6-3, 6-1 win over Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.
At just 17, she is the youngest woman to reach the last eight of a Slam since Nicole Vaidisova who made the quarter-finals at Roland Garros in 2006.
Gauff is also the youngest American woman to book a place in the last eight in Paris since Jennifer Capriati in 1993.
In a composed performance on Court Philippe Chatrier today, the American teenager, seeded 24, broke her Tunisian opponent three times without facing a break point herself.
“I am super happy to reach my first Grand Slam quarter-final. I played really well today,” said Gauff who has yet to drop a set and also learned she had claimed a place on the American team for the Tokyo Olympics.
Gauff, who famously raced to the Wimbledon fourth round in 2019 as a 15-year-old qualifier, faces Barbora Krejcikova for a place in the semi-finals.
The 33rd-ranked Czech also reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final with a 6-2, 6-0 win over 2018 runner-up and former US Open champion Sloane Stephens.
Later today, world number one Djokovic, chasing a 19th Grand Slam title, faces 19-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti who is in his first Grand Slam tournament.
Nadal, the 13-time champion in Paris and edging towards a record 21st major, also tackles an Italian 19-year-old in the shape of Jannik Sinner who he beat in the quarter-finals in 2020.
With Roger Federer having withdrawn to rest his knees before Wimbledon, yet another Italian, Matteo Berrettini has a free pass to the quarter-finals.
Djokovic, the 2016 champion in Paris, is bidding to be the first man in more than half a century to win all four majors on multiple occasions.
He will next face a player who has become just the sixth man since 2000 to make the fourth round of a major on his debut.
‘Lot of firepower’
“I really like how he plays. He’s got a lot of firepower from both forehand and backhand,” Djokovic said ahead of a first meeting with Musetti.
Thanks to Musetti and Sinner, it is the first men’s French Open to feature two teenagers at this stage since 2006, when Djokovic and Gael Monfils reached the second week.
While both Djokovic and Nadal can reach the quarter-finals for the 15th time, should Musetti and Sinner upset the odds, it will be the first time in history that three Italian men have reached the last eight at a Grand Slam.
Today’s remaining last 16 tie features Diego Schwartzman, the 10th-seeded Argentine, against unseeded Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.
Only two of the women’s top 10 seeds are now left after Serena Williams saw her push for a record-equalling 24th major foiled again in a last 16 defeat yesterday by Elena Rybakina.
World number one Ashleigh Barty, second-ranked Naomi Osaka and third seed Aryna Sabalenka all exited in the first week.
Fourth-seeded Sofia Kenin, the runner-up in 2020 and a former Australian Open winner, takes on Greek 17th seed Maria Sakkari.
Sakkari will be bidding to reach the quarter-finals of a Slam for the first time.
The winner of that clash will meet defending champion Iga Swiatek in the last eight if the eighth-seeded Pole sees off Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine.
Swiatek has not dropped a set at the tournament in her last 10 matches.
Kostyuk, ranked 81, made her breakthrough at the 2018 Australian Open.
Just 15 at the time, she became the youngest player to reach the third round of a Grand Slam since 1997. — AFP