Teenager Coco Gauff downed veteran Kaia Kanepi in a clash of the generations to reach the fourth round of the French Open with a 6-3 6-4 victory on Friday.
The 18-year-old American, who was still a toddler when Estonian Kanepi (36) played the first of two quarterfinals at Roland Garros in 2008, will next face Belgian 31st seed Elise Mertens.
“I knew it was going be a tough match. (She) beat (former champion Garbine) Murugza in the first round … I knew today would be close,” said Gauff, who achieved her best Grand Slam result when she made it to the quarterfinals here last year.
“I’ve been coming to France since I was 10 and trained at the Mouratoglou academy so I guess it makes me maybe not a clay court expert, but not bad at it,” the youngest player still in the draw said.
Kanepi, by contrast the oldest player left in the women’s singles, broke in the first game but Gauff struck back emphatically, winning the next five games with a flurry of winners on court Suzanne Lenglen.
Kanepi pulled a break back for 5-2 and keep the 18th seed on her toes as she followed by holding her serve.
Gauff wrapped up the set in the next game when her opponent sent a backhand long.
Gauff advanced to 2-0 in the second set, before Kanepi, making the most of the American’s increasing number of unforced errors, turned the tables to take a 3-2 lead.
Kanepi’s hopes of a comeback were short-lived as she dropped serve again when she buried an easy backhand into the net after a poorly-executed drop shot from Gauff.
Serving at 4-3, the teenager held and closed out the match on serve in the set’s 10th game when Kanepi made her 29th unforced error. — SowetanLIVE