Coco Gauff to face Iga Swiatek in French Open final


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PARIS — Four years after winning the French Open’s girls’ championship, American teen Coco Gauff took a major step in her ascension to the elite ranks of tennis Thursday at Roland Garros, earning a spot in her first Grand Slam final with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Martina Trevisan of Italy.

Gauff, 18, who graduated from high school just three weeks ago, will face top-ranked Iga Swiatek of Poland, the 2020 French Open champion, who takes a 34-match winning streak into Saturday’s women’s final.

Swiatek needed just 64 minutes to dispatch Daria Kasatkina earlier Thursday, 6-2, 6-1, who was no match for the variety, pace and power of the Pole’s unrelenting game.

Swiatek, 21, holds a 2-0 edge over Gauff.

During her on-court interview after the victory, Gauff said she was in a bit of shock over her achievement but dismissed any suggestion that nerves would be a factor in her first Grand Slam final, noting that she would be happy regardless and that her parents would love her either way.

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“There are so many things going on in the world right now, especially in the United States — a lot of stuff is happening right now — I think it’s not important to stress over a tennis match,” Gauff said, drawing applause from the crowd on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Gauff is the youngest French Open finalist since Belgium’s Kim Clijsters, in 2001. And she reached the championship without conceding a set through six matches, while contesting the women’s doubles event with fellow American Jessica Pegula, who is among her biggest fans.

Gauff and Pegula will face fellow Americans Madison Keys and Taylor Townsend in Friday’s doubles semifinals.

“She loves clay,” Pegula said of Gauff after her own bid to reach the semifinals was derailed by Swiatek on Wednesday. “She definitely did a really great job of working through her draw pretty elegantly … not having too many crazy matches and getting the job done. And I think that’s going to give her confidence.”

A love of clay is among several qualities that distinguish the 5-foot-9 Gauff apart from other rising players and from Americans, in particular.

Apart from Chris Evert, who won a women’s record seven French Opens in the 1970s and 1980s, the red clay of Roland Garros hasn’t been a fruitful surface for Americans. Serena Williams was the last American woman to win the French, claiming her third title in 2015. Andre Agassi was the last American man, winning in 1999.

This year’s edition of the French Open, however, has seen American women make a strong statement. Three reached the quarterfinals: in addition to Gauff, 11th-seeded Pegula and 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens.

Although her game is still developing, Gauff boasts a terrific blend of skills that translate well to the tricky surface, where nimble footwork, timing and patience matter more than power. Gauff is a quick and agile mover, able to transition from offense and defense on a dime. She’s also patient and smart, able to stay in rallies until the opportune moment comes to unleash the booming forehand that is her strength.

Thursday’s match against the 5-foot-3 Trevisan was tricky, with six breaks of serve in the opening set. But as the match wore on, Gauff only elevated her play, minimizing errors and wisely choosing the openings for winners.

Afterward, as is custom among victorious players as they walk off court, she autographed the TV camera lens, writing “Peace” and “End Gun Violence” above a drawing of a heart “Coco.”


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