Coco Gauff’s run at the French Open continues into the quarterfinals with a win over Elise Mertens


Coco Gauff's run at the French Open continues into the quarterfinals with a win over Elise Mertens

Quite a trip to Paris this spring for 18-year-old American Coco Gauff, who celebrated her high school graduation – a feat applauded on social media by former first lady Michelle Obama – and is now in the French Open quarterfinals for the second year in a row.

How have YOU spent the last week or so?

Whilst she was learning, Gauff took control of a tight opening set against No. 31 seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium on Sunday, snapping up the last eight games to go 6-4, 6-0 in the fourth round at Roland Garros.

“You’re never going to play your best tennis in a slam every moment of the game, but I think I’m getting better and better,” said Gauff, who is seeded 18th in the clay-court major tournament, “and I think mentally that I can’t ask much more of myself in any game.”

Next up is a match against Sloane Stephens, who returned to the quarterfinals of the French Open for the first time since 2019 by beating Jil Teichmann 6-2, 6-0. Stephens won the US Open in 2017 and was runner-up at Roland Garros the next year. But she has not been in the bottom eight of a major tournament since losing in the quarter-finals in Paris three years ago.

The other quarterfinals in the bottom half of the draw will be a meeting between left-handers: Leylah Fernandez, No. 17, a 19-year-old Canadian who reached the final at the US Open last year, against Martina Trevisan of Italy, No. 59, who reached the quarter-finals in Paris two years ago.

Fernandez amassed more than twice as many winners, 35, as unforced errors, 17, and broke serve a half-dozen times to beat 20-year-old American Amanda Anisimova 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. windy day. Trevisan grabbed the last four games and eliminated Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7:6 (10), 7:5.

“Every time I step on the court, I still have something to prove,” said Fernandez, who finished just 73rd last September when she defeated four-time Major champion Naomi Osaka en route to runners-up behind Emma Raducanu in Flushing Meadows. “I still have this mindset that I’m the underdog. I’m still young.”

Gauff is of course even younger.

In 2021 she was the youngest French Open quarterfinalist in 15 years, but lost five set points in a loss to eventual champion Barbora Krejcikova.

That stuck on her Sunday when she was in a back-and-forth first set against Mertens, who was 4-all before Gauff got going. Afterwards, she praised herself for staying calm in the moment.

“That was the biggest lesson I learned in my quarterfinal game last year. I had a couple of set points and I think I freaked out when some of those points didn’t go my way,” said Gauff, the one around the corner delivered -net-post backhand on the run but ultimately lost that exchange. “Today I didn’t freak out when a couple of those important points didn’t go my way.”

Gauff performed at Wimbledon in 2019 when she was 15 by becoming the youngest – yes, there’s that word again – qualifier in tournament history, beating Venus Williams in the first round of the peloton and all the way to the final made fourth. More runs in week 2 at major tournaments followed.

She is proud of her success in schoolwork. She has posted a series of pictures of herself on Instagram wearing her cap and dress and holding a diploma with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

A nice surprise was a response from Obama, whom Gauff met.

“I’m super grateful for this news. … Which really meant a lot: It wasn’t about tennis, it was about my education,” said Gauff. “So I think that meant more to me.”

You May Also Like