WILL EVANS’ daily preview serves up French Open tips for a quarter-final blockbuster between Coco Gauff and Sloane Stephens.
21:30 (AEST), Tue 31st May @ Stade de Roland Garros, Paris
History: Played 1: Stephens 1 V Gauff 0
Last meeting: US Open, 2021 (R64): Stephens d Gauff 6-4 6-2
Final Thoughts: It’s an all-American showdown and a potential changing of the guard in the French Open quarter-finals. But world No.64 Sloane Stephens shapes as a formidable hurdle for 18-year-old 18th seed Coco Gauff.
Former US Open champ Stephens, a finalist at the French Open in 2018, has had a disappointing season but has hit top form in recent days. After three-set wins over Jule Niemerier and 26th seed Sorana Cirstea, the 29-year-old powered past Diane Parry 6-2 6-3 then won 12 straight games to eliminate in-form 23rd seed Jil Teichmann 6-2 6-0.
Gauff made the Stuttgart Open final on clay last month and loomed as a big chance of a deep French Open run. She made the quarters at Roland Garros last year – her best grand slam performance.
Gauff is yet to drop a set and has lost no more than seven games in disposing of Rebecca Marino, Alison van Uytvanck, Kaia Kanepi and 31st seed Elise Mertens, who she overwhelmed 6-4 6-0.
In the pair’s only previous meeting, unseeded Stephens crushed 21st seed Gauff 6-4 6-2 in the second round of the 2021 US Open. Stephens was untouchable on serve, giving up (and saving) just one break point opportunity and winning 83 percent of her first-serve points.
As good as Gauff was against Mertens, Stephens sounded the biggest non-Swiatek warning of the tournament with her destruction of Teichmann. The pressure is on favourite Gauff, while Stephens’ previous grand slam experience provides another decisive advantage – despite not being to this stage of a major since the 2019 French Open.