PARIS (AP) — If Coco Gauff keeps playing like this, she’s going to go from teenage prodigy to Grand Slam champion in a hurry.
The 17-year-old American completely overwhelmed Ons Jabeur in a 6-3, 6-1 victory at the French Open on Monday to become the youngest woman to reach the quarterfinals at any Grand Slam tournament in 15 years.
Gauff lost only nine points on her serve and was also highly effective at the net, winning 13 of 17 points when she came forward — which was especially impressive against a player who is known for her shot-making skills.
“I feel like this has been the most consistent tennis I have played at this level,” Gauff said. “Hopefully I can keep that going.”
Gauff is one of six first-time Grand Slam quarterfinalists in the women’s draw. The others include her next opponent, Barbora Krejcikova, along with Maria Sakkari, Elena Rybakina, Paula Badosa and Tamara ZIdansek. Marta Kostyuk could become the seventh by beating 2020 champion Iga Swiatek on Monday night.
Krejcikova advanced by beating 2018 French Open runner-up Sloane Stephens with a similarly lopsided score — 6-2, 6-0. The No. 17th-seeded Sakkari eliminated last year’s runner-up, Sofia Kenin, 6-1, 6-3.
Jabeur said Gauff is a contender to raise the trophy — either this year or in the future.
“If she’s not going to win it now, she’s probably going to win another time,” the Tunisian said.
It wouldn’t be the first time Gauff claims a title at Roland Garros, having won the girls’ singles title in 2018.
Gauff already announced herself as a contender to become the next great American player when she made a run to the fourth round at Wimbledon as a 15-year-old qualifier two years ago. Now, having gone one step further, she became the youngest American to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal since Venus Williams did it at 17 at the 1997 U.S. Open.
“I’m only going to be 17 once, so you might as well talk about it while I’m 17,” Gauff said.
Gauff has not dropped a set in Paris this year. She won both the singles and doubles titles at a warmup tournament in Parma before coming to Paris. That came after a run to the semifinals of the Italian Open.
In all, she’s on a career-best nine-match winning streak.
“Parma gave me a lot of confidence, especially on the clay,” Gauff said. “It taught me a lot about how to close out matches and deal with the pressure on important points.”
Nerves doom Kenin, 2020 French Open runner-up
Sofia Kenin blamed jitters for her fourth-round exit in the French Open.
At No. 4, Kenin was the highest-seeded player left in the women’s draw. But she lost serve six times and had 32 unforced errors in a 6-1, 6-3 loss to Maria Sakkari of Greece.
“Nerves got the better of me,” Kenin said. “Definitely I need some work on that. It’s really disappointing. I had some tough matches and I was able to win, I was able to deal with my nerves. And today obviously it’s really frustrating — I get here and I completely lose it. There’s a lot of mental work to be done.”
Last year Kenin won the Australian Open and was the runner-up at Roland Garros. But she has just a 10-9 record in 2021, and last month announced she no longer would be coached by her father, Alex.
She declined to discuss her expectations for the rest of the year.
“I think it’s better for me not to say anything,” she said. “My emotions are high, and I just need some time to be by myself.”