After a bruising few days for women’s tennis comes soothing balm in the form of an almost perfect line-up for Saturday’s French Open final.
Coco Gauff will play her first Major championship match at just eighteen, even though she seems to have been around forever. Her opponent will be world number one Iga Swiatek, on a run of 34 consecutive victories.
It could hardly have worked out better following the rumpus that accompanied the lack of women’s matches in the new night session at Roland Garros, and the clunking comments of tournament director Amelie Mauresmo.
Coco Gauff (above) will play her first Major championship match at just eighteen years old
There will be no lack of star quality when Gauff, this remarkably poised American teenager with a beatific smile, tackles the Pole who is displaying a rare dominance of the WTA Tour.
Both players made it through for the loss of just four and three games respectively. Before they did so Mauresmo attempted to backtrack on her admission that she felt women’s matches did not hold the same attraction as the men.
Gauff’s relatively long and steady ascent to the peak of the game could hardly be better timed, and her 6-3 6-1 victory against Italian outsider Martina Trevisan never looked in doubt.
Her opponent will be world number one Iga Swiatek, on a run of 34 consecutive victories
Gauff is even younger than Emma Raducanu was when she reached last year’s US Open final
Not someone who struggles to look beyond the confines of a tennis court, she used her on-court speech to declare that recent world events would put her attempts to win a Grand Slam in perspective. She ended up writing ‚Peace, end gun violence‘ on the TV camera as she left.
‚Ever since I was young, you know I use my platform to bring attention to topics and today was one of those days,‘ she said.
Gauff is even younger than Emma Raducanu was when she reached last year’s US Open final, and is the most youthful finalist at any Major since Maria Sharapova won Wimbleton in 2004.
She has been a slow burner compared to the way Raducanu emerged in such explosive fashion but, like the British player, has made sure that she finished her secondary education. ‚It has been a good graduation week,‘ she said, referring to the official receipt of her diploma before the tournament.
She is the most youthful finalist at any Major since Maria Sharapova won Wimbleton in 2004
Some would have expected it all to happen sooner when she defeated Venus Williams at Wimbleton aged 15, but the build-up of results has taken time, in the way that will probably prove true for Raducanu, New York excepted.
Gauff’s articulate manner should not be confused with any softness. Within two games she had complained to the umpire about Trevisan’s loud and lingering grunt, even if to no avail.
Now she has to find a way to defuse the clean hitting of Swiatek, who ruthlessly dismissed Daria Kasatkina 6-2 6-1. Thus ended any chance of a Russian emerging victorious from this tournament.
Swiatek is now just one match away from equalling the records of both Williams sisters, who both amassed winning streaks of 35 in their careers. Even Gauff’s outstanding movement in defence will be stretched by the Pole’s power and accuracy, way too strong for Kasatkina.
Now Gauff has to find a way to defuse the clean hitting of Swiatek, who ruthlessly dismissed Daria Kasatkina (above) 6-2 6-1
Mauresmo will be happy to have a proper marquee final after her remarks about the imbalance between men’s and women’s matches, which she wrongly claimed had been taken out of context.
‚I want to say sorry to the players that really felt bad about what I said,‘ she told America’s Tennis Channel. It looks like there will be a rethink of the evening schedule, which saw nine men’s matches compared to one women’s.
‚Because we have one match only I feel that it’s really tougher to schedule a woman’s match because we have to take into consideration the length,‘ she said.
‚Next year in order to be able to be more fair to the women’s players, as well as to both categories, it would be good to have the possibility to put two matches on, maybe a women’s match plus a doubles match.‘