June 21, 2024
Coco Gauff

Coco Gauff is still only 20 years old, though it might feel as if she has been playing on the WTA tour for the last 10 years. She won her first Grand Slam at 19 which was the 2023 US Open. She didn’t win that event solely on her tennis ability; she partly won because of extreme athleticism and the ability to chase down balls nearly no other player would be able to get.

This athletic ability should also translate well to clay where the ball bounces a bit slower and plays can get to more balls. Gauff might be able to get to every ball when she is in peak form. Her best performance at the French Open was reaching the final in 2022, but she reached the quarterfinals in 2021 and 2023. She probably can win at Roland Garros except for one other player.

While Gauff has not played as many events as she has on hard courts, her best win-loss percentage has come on clay. She is 1-1 in clay court finals and won the Emilia-Romagna Open in 2021. That was only a WTA 250 tournament, though, so the competition was not exactly the best on the tour.

Coco Gauff throws a challenge down for Iga Swiatek
The problem for Gauff on clay (besides that she lost to Marta Kostyuk in the quarterfinals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix this week), and the issue that will remain the same for years to come, is the same reason she lost the French Open final in 2022. While the American is good on clay, WTA No. 1 Iga Swiatek is projecting toward being an all-time great on the surface. The Pole has already won three French Opens and she is only 22 years old.

That did not stop Gauff from answering questions during her run at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix this week about what her chances would be in Paris in late May. Gauff answered in the way any confident player would, but she did not mention her great rival, especially on clay, Iga Swiatek. An athlete uses any slight they might perceive for motivation so if Swiatek, who has accomplished more than Gauff has on tour, heard Gauff’s words, the Pole could certainly want to confirm who is the clay court alpha on the WTA tour at Roland Garros.

Gauff said, “I really believe I’m one of the favorites in every tournament I’m in now. Winning the US Open was incredible, it was my dream since I was a child, now my goal is to win in Paris. France has been like a second home for me, since I was 10 years old I come here often and even two years ago I did well by reaching the final.”

Again, there is nothing wrong with what Gauff said, but Swiatek is the better player on clay currently. If Gauff is going to take the French Open, she will likely have to pry the trophy from Swiatek. Moreover, Gauff versus Swiatek should be a fun rivalry to watch develop over the next decade.

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