PARIS (Reuters) – American teen sensation Coco Gauff will aim to reach the last-16 of the French Open for the first time in her fledgling career on Saturday when she takes on compatriot Jennifer Brady.
Gauff, 17, has excelled on the European claycourt swing over the last month, with a semi-final run at the Italian Open followed by only her second WTA title at Emilia-Romagna Open.
The 24th seed improved her record for 2021 to 23-9 with her third round win.
Only world number one Ash Barty, Aryna Sabalenka and Veronika Kudermetova — all of them already out of the French Open this week — have won more matches this season.
Gauff, however, faces her first big test of the tournament in Brady, who made her breakthrough this season with a runner-up finish at the Australian Open.
In their only previous meeting, Brady beat Gauff 6-2 6-4 last August in the Lexington semi-final.
In the day’s other all-American clash, last year’s finalist Sofia Kenin will take on 28th seed Jessica Pegula.
While the women’s draw has already lost its top three seeds, Iga Swiatek has looked comfortable in her role of defending champion, dropping just seven games in her opening two rounds.
“I just realised that I can actually play (here) without any expectations,” Swiatek said ahead of her third round match against Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit. “Because there are many stories when after going to a tournament as a defending champion players have some issues.
“I just told myself, there may be a situation that you’re not gonna play as well as you did last couple of years in Paris, so just, relax and we’re gonna see what’s gonna happen.”
In the men’s draw, Rafa Nadal will continue his pursuit of a 14th Roland Garros title against Briton Cameron Norrie, while world number one Novak Djokovic will look to stretch his winning head-to-head record over Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis to 4-0.
Swiss great Roger Federer is bidding to reach the last-16 of a Grand Slam for a record-extending 68th time when he meets Germany’s Dominik Koepfer.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)