Coco Gauff Tops Ninth Seed Johanna Konta in French Open Main Draw Debut
(September 27, 2020) Making her debut at Roland Garros on Sunday, sixteen-year old Coco Gauff braved the cold and knocked off No. 9 seed and last year’s semifinalist Johanna Konta of Great Britain 6-3, 6-3 in the first round in Paris. The win is the American teen’s fourth win over a Top 20 player. Roland Garros, normally played late May into June, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gauff who won the match in an hour and 41 minutes admitted that she was nervous going into the match and that her father calmed her down.
“His goal was to become an NBA player, and he didn’t make it. He told me: ‘You’re living your dream. Not everybody gets to do that. Just have fun on the court.’ That really changed my perspective,” said Gauff. “That just calmed me down. I realized it’s just a tennis match. I’m doing some things that people wish they could do.”
“I don’t really take anything for granted, because I’m just happy to be playing,” Gauff said to media during her news conference. “I don’t think maybe winning matches at slams is something I’m used to, especially this is my first main draw at Roland Garros. When I’m on the court, I can act like I’m used to it. When I’m off the court, I’m just happy to be here.”
“It doesn’t really matter how old she is,” Konta said. “The age and those things, I think that’s a factor for you guys (media) and for public interest and for sponsors and for things like that. But as a fellow competitor, that’s got nothing to do with us competing out on court.”
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) September 27, 2020
No. 11 seed David Goffin of Belgium was the first seed and highest men’s seed to go out on Sunday, falling to 19-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner 7-5, 6-0, 6-3 on day one. Sinner, who is on an 11-match win streak was making his main draw debut in Paris. “I was playing well from the beginning of the second set. I felt comfortable on court trying to go with the backhand a little bit more down the line and to open the court a little bit.”
It was smooth sailing for Top seed Simona Halep who was celebrating her 29th birthday. The Romanian won her last 10 straight games in stopping No. 70 Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-4, 6-0. She extends her current win streak to 15. “It feels very special,” she said. “I feel very honored to play the first round under the roof. It’s a unique moment for me, playing here on my birthday, playing at Roland-Garros.”
Former finalist Venus Williams lost to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-4, 6-4. The 40-year-old American also lost to the Slovak in the second round of the French Open in 2014.
“I’m very happy but still I appreciate all of her successes and her career, said Schmiedlova. She’s an incredible player and I will always respect her, and playing against her is always very challenging. I just tried to enjoy it and play my best game and it worked today.”
Williams, who said that she’ll be back next year complemented her opponent. “She played really, really well, I thought,” Williams said during her news conference. “Not a lot of errors. Even on my really good shots she had a lot of amazing replies that just came out of nowhere. Give her credit for playing an amazing match.”
In a match between three-time major winners, 16th seed Stan Wawrinka defeated wild card Andy Murray 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 37 minutes. The 2015 champion from Switzerland said: “I was expecting a tough match. I was really focused with a champion like Andy. Even if the scoreboard is only one side like today, you have to keep focus.”
“You never know what can happen. Today I’m really happy with what I have done on the court.”
“Obviously an extremely tough draw,” Murray said. “Even if I played very well, it would have been no guarantee that I win that match.”
“But I also didn’t play well. I served under 40 per cent first serves in the court, that’s just not good enough, really, against anyone, and especially someone as good as Stan. “He’s been back now after having some surgery, hip surgery. Nobody expected him to come back on the tour,” said the Swiss.” He’s getting back. He’s an amazing champion. It’s always going to be special to play against him.”
Other seeds advancing on Sunday were US Open finalist Alexander Zverev, the 6th seed, No. 10 seed Victoria Azarenka, No. 12 Diego Schwartzman, No. 16 Elise Mertens, No. 21 John Isner, No. 23 Benoit Paire, No. 23 Yulia Putinseva, No. 27 Taylor Fritz, and No. 32 Barbora Strycova.
Other upsets on Sunday included No. 17 Anett Kontaveit losing to Caroline Garcia, No. 3 Alex de Minaur, No. 24 Borna Coric falling to Norbert Gombos, No. 24 Dayana Yastremska losing to Daria Gavrilova in straight sets, and Kei Nishikori defeating No, 32 seed Dan Evans 1-6, 6-1, 7-6 (3), 1-6, 6-4.