PARIS — Still working on her French, Coco Gauff is already excelling on the French Open.
At age 18, the young Floridian is into the ladies’s singles final at Roland Garros without losing a set and continued her poised and precocious run on Thursday with a convincing 6-3, 6-1 victory over Martina Trevisan of Italy.
Gauff — in her first Grand Slam singles final — will now face probably the most daunting task available in women’s tennis: attempting to stop No. 1 ranked Iga Swiatek.
Swiatek, 21, prolonged her winning streak to 34 matches in Thursday’s first semifinal by overwhelming Daria Kasatkina, 6-2, 6-1.
Swiatek, powerful and assured, has done numerous overwhelming this season. She has not lost since February and beat Gauff, 6 -3, 6-1, within the round of 16 on the Miami Open. Together with her excellent groundstrokes and explosive movement, she has squeezed the suspense out of match after match.
“She is reaching loads of balls,” said Kasatkina, the Russian who has lost to Swiatek 4 times in a rush this season. “I mean, even a number of the balls that you just are considering that the purpose is over, she’s still there, and she or he’s taking the ball pretty early, which makes it really tough. It’s difficult when the player is moving good after which she will be able to transit this to attack mode.”
But Gauff, certainly one of the fastest players on tour, can even turn defense into offense, which is certainly one of the explanations she excels on clay. Though she made her first big breakthrough on the circuit on the grass courts of Wimbledon by reaching the fourth round there as a qualifier at age 15, she has had her best Grand Slam singles leads to Paris: reaching the quarterfinals at Roland Garros last yr before losing to Barbora Krejcikova, the eventual champion.
Now, Gauff, with higher control of her strokes and her big-point emotions, has gone two rounds further, becoming the youngest women’s singles finalist on the French Open since Kim Clijsters in 2001 and the youngest singles finalist at any Grand Slam event since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004 at age 17.
Gauff, who has admitted to combating the expectations that include such early success, has been emphasizing the method over the destination of late. She kept the identical approach as she looked forward to Saturday’s final.
“I feel I’m within the mind-set now that it doesn’t matter,” she said of the result. “I’ll be glad regardless. My parents are going to like me regardless. I’m going go as if it’s one other match. Yes, it’s a Grand Slam final, but there are such a lot of things happening on the planet, especially within the U.S. So I feel it’s not vital to emphasize over a tennis match.”
Gauff included a written message on the tv camera glass she autographed after winning her match: “Peace. End Gun violence.”
“That was only a message for the people back at home to observe and for people who find themselves all around the globe to observe,” Gauff told reporters afterward. She added: “Hopefully it gets into the heads of individuals in office to hopefully change things.”