Coco Gauff into French Open final, youngest major finalist in 18 years

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Coco Gauff will go from celebrating her high school graduation in front of the Eiffel Tower to playing for the French Open title in a span of two weeks.

Gauff, an 18-year-old American, beat Italian Martina Trevisan 6-3, 6-1 in Thursday’s semifinals to become the youngest Grand Slam finalist since Maria Sharapova won her first major at Wimbledon in 2004.

Her reward: A date with top-ranked Iga Swiatek, who is riding a 34-match win streak, tying the longest run in women’s tennis since 2000. NBC and Peacock Premium air live coverage Saturday at 9 a.m. ET.

“I have nothing to lose,” Gauff said. “She’s definitely the favorite.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Gauff became the first woman to make a major final without playing a top-30 opponent in more than 40 years, winning her six matches without dropping a set. She dispatched the 59th-ranked Trevisan in a matchup of first-time major semifinalists.

“I’m a little bit in shock right now,” Gauff said in an on-court interview. “I’m going to be happy regardless [of the final result]. I know my parents are going to love me regardless, so I’m just going to go into it like another match. Yeah, it’s a Grand Slam final, but there’s so many things going on in the world right now, especially in the U.S., a lot of stuff is happening right now, so I think it’s not important to stress over a tennis match.”

Gauff illustrated her grounded mindset moments after the match. She signed a video camera, “Peace End Gun Violence” and spoke about it in multiple interviews.

“Trying to spread that message of what’s going in the U.S. around the world,” she said on NBC, noting that she had two friends who were “part of” the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. “We definitely need some reform and some change to go on to control what’s happening in the United States. Now that I’m 18 and of the age to vote, I’ve been really paying attention to what’s going on so that when my time comes I can make the right decision, and I also want to use this moment to encourage people my age to vote locally because those are the people who can really effect your community.”

Gauff continued her steady progression from prodigy to tour pro.

Four years ago, she nearly played Swiatek in the French Open junior final, but Swiatek squandered a match point in the semifinals. Gauff instead beat her doubles partner, Caty McNally, in the final to become at 14 the youngest junior Grand Slam champion since Martina Hingis in 1994.

The next year, Coco Mania broke out at Wimbledon. She beat Venus Williams in the first round and became the youngest player to reach the fourth round of a major since Anna Kournikova in 1996.

In 2020, Gauff beat Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open, becoming the youngest player to defeat a defending champion at a major since Jennifer Capriati in 1991.

Last year, she made the French Open quarterfinals, becoming the youngest player to get that far in a major singles draw since Nicole Vaidisova in 2006.

Gauff’s strong play throughout the tour calendar has her at No. 23 in the world rankings. She will move to No. 13 with a runner-up on Saturday. Win, and she will be No. 8 in the world and the highest-ranked American.

“I’m definitely ready to win one, but I’m not putting pressure on myself to win one,” she said. “There’s a fine line between believing in yourself and almost pushing yourself too much.”

Swiatek has similar self-belief, which propelled her since Australian Ash Barty‘s shock retirement in March. Swiatek became the first Polish player to be No. 1 when Barty retired, and she hasn’t lost a match since the ascension.

In 2020, she came to Paris with no title expectations and marched to victory without dropping a set. This year, she entered as an overwhelming favorite and delivered while the rest of the top 10 lost before the quarterfinals.

In the semifinals, she swept Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-1 in 64 mostly dominant minutes.

She tied the longest women’s win streak since Venus Williams won 35 in 2000. Serena Williams also won 34 in a row in 2013.

“This season everything clicked,” Swiatek said. “I couldn’t get rid of the expectations like fully, but I tried to accept that, that they are going to be there and it’s going to stress me a little bit more.”

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Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz exit French Open, leaving no U.S. men

Frances Tiafoe French Open

Frances Tiafoe kept coming oh so close to extending his French Open match against Alexander Zverev: 12 times Saturday night, the American was two points from forcing things to a fifth set.

Yet the 12th-seeded Tiafoe never got closer than that.

Instead, the 22nd-seeded Zverev finished out his 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1, 7-6 (5) victory after more than 3 1/2 hours in Court Philippe Chatrier to reach the fourth round. With Tiafoe’s exit, none of the 16 men from the United States who were in the bracket at the start of the tournament are still in the field.

“I mean, for the majority of the match, I felt like I was in control,” said Tiafoe, a 25-year-old from Maryland who fell to 1-7 against Zverev.

“It’s just tough,” he said about a half-hour after his loss ended, rubbing his face with his hand. “I should be playing the fifth right now.”

Two other American men lost earlier Saturday: No. 9 seed Taylor Fritz and unseeded Marcos Giron.

No. 23 Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina beat Fritz 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5, and Nicolas Jarry of Chile eliminated Giron 6-2, 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-3.

There are three U.S women remaining: No. 6 Coco Gauff, Sloane Stephens and Bernarda Pera.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

It is the second year in a row that zero men from the United States will participate in the fourth round at Roland Garros. If nothing else, it stands as a symbolic step back for the group after what seemed to be a couple of breakthrough showings at the past two majors.

For Tiafoe, getting to the fourth round is never the goal.

“I want to win the trophy,” he said.

Remember: No American man has won any Grand Slam title since Andy Roddick at the 2003 U.S. Open. The French Open has been the least successful major in that stretch with no U.S. men reaching the quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003.

But Tiafoe beat Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of the U.S. Open along the way to getting to the semifinals there last September, the first time in 16 years the host nation had a representative in the men’s final four at Flushing Meadows.

Then, at the Australian Open this January, Tommy Paul, Sebastian Korda and Ben Shelton became the first trio of Americans in the men’s quarterfinals in Melbourne since 2000. Paul made it a step beyond that, to the semifinals.

After that came this benchmark: 10 Americans were ranked in the ATP’s Top 50, something that last happened in June 1995.

On Saturday, after putting aside a whiffed over-the-shoulder volley — he leaned atop the net for a moment in disbelief — Tiafoe served for the fourth set at 5-3, but couldn’t seal the deal.

In that game, and the next, and later on, too, including at 5-all in the tiebreaker, he would come within two points of owning that set.

Each time, Zverev claimed the very next point. When Tiafoe sent a forehand wide to end it, Zverev let out two big yells. Then the two, who have been pals for about 15 years, met for a warm embrace at the net, and Zverev placed his hand atop Tiafoe’s head.

“He’s one of my best friends on tour,” said Zverev, a German who twice has reached the semifinals on the red clay of Paris, “but on the court, I’m trying to win.”

At the 2022 French Open, Zverev tore ligaments in his right ankle while playing Nadal in the semifinals and had to stop.

“It’s been definitely the hardest year of my life, that’s for sure,” Zverev said. “I love tennis more than anything in the world.”

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2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Having turned 22 on Wednesday, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, is her top remaining challenger in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round. No. 4 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, who has three wins over Swiatek this year, withdrew before her third-round match due to illness.

No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the best hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw