PARIS — There were 35 American men and women who qualified for the 2023 French Open. There were nine who advanced to the third round. Now there is only Coco Gauff.
Gauff, the sixth seed at the French Open, reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros for the third successive year with a straight-sets victory over 100th-ranked Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 7-5, 6-2 on Monday.
The American made things a little harder on herself in the first set. After grabbing a 5-2 lead, things got more interesting when she got broken while serving for the set at 5-2 and again at 5-4.
Coco Gauff helped Schmiedlova, who had never been past the third round at a major tournament, with a double fault, then hit a forehand into the net to tie the first set at five games apiece. In the next game, Gauff stumbled on the clay and scrapped her right knee.
After she won the set, Gauff asked for a visit from the trainer, who bandaged just below her knee. The injury didn’t seem to bother the young American much as she removed the tape after a few games and then cruised to a second-set win.
It was the 37th consecutive win over a player ranked outside the top 50 for Coco Gauff, dating back to February 2022.
She has certainly benefited from an easy draw at the French Open, not facing a single player ranked inside the top 60 in the world in her four matches at Roland Garros. It was a much-needed run of success for Coco Gauff, who came into the French Open 18-8 on the season and just 3-3 in the clay court run-up to the Grand Slam.
However, the degree of difficulty is likely to get much harder in Wednesday’s quarterfinals with world number one Iga Swiatek likely waiting, assuming she can beat 66th-ranked Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko later on Monday.
Swiatek has won all 12 sets she’s played against Gauff, including a 6-1, 6-3 win in last year’s French Open final.
The 19-year-old Coco Gauff is the only teenager in the top 49 in the world and the challenge against Swiatek will be another chance for her to prove she’s one of the best in the world.
The other women’s quarterfinal on the top half of the draw Wednesday will be No. 7 Ons Jabeur of Tunisia vs. No. 14 Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil after Jabeur beat 36th-ranked Bernarda Pera, the only other American besides Gauff who made the fourth round.
Jabeur won all eight of Pera’s service games and captured 15 of 16 second-serve points. Pera also made 33 unforced errors to just 13 winners.
“I was expecting her to play better,” Jabeur said.
Overall, it has not been a great French Open for the Americans, who historically don’t do well on clay with few clay courts to practice on in the United States.
However, all of that could change if Coco Gauff is able to pull off the major upset on Wednesday.