IT was a clean sweep on Day 9 of Roland Garros action, with the women’s draw seeing all four matches play out in straight sets and relatively confident wins at that. A couple more seeds fell, as one unseeded player remains in this half of the draw.
In a day of fast finishes, it was teen Coco Gauff who completed her victory the quickest as the 17-year-old slammed home a 6-3 6-1 result in just 53 minutes over 25th seed Ons Jabeur. Gauff reached her first grand slam quarter final in the process – and is the youngest in Paris to do so since 2006 – hitting just nine unforced errors to 21 throughout the encounter, and 15 winners for two aces.
“It means a lot to me,” Gauff said post-match. “I have lost in the fourth round a couple times so it feels good to get over that hurdle. Today I played probably my best match so far in the tournament.”
“I feel like all my matches have been — I don’t know how to say it, but straightforward wins, like no crazy three sets and stuff,” she said. “As we know, I have had a lot of those in the past.”
“I just feel like this has been the most consistent tennis I have played at this level. Hopefully I can keep that going.”
Gauff, seeded just one ahead of Jabeur in at 24th, is also the youngest American to reach the quarters of any major slam since Venus Williams in 1997, who prevailed to make the US Open final.
“I’m definitely still learning [on clay], I’m going to always still be learning no matter how many matches I win,” Gauff said. “But for me, it’s just being patient. And shot selection I think is really important on clay because you’re not going to have too many outright winners on clay just because it’s slower and gives more time for your opponent to get the ball.”
“I think clay is probably the surface you can use the whole court the most. I think it’s important that I continue to mix up how I play so my opponents don’t really know what to expect.”
The young gun takes on Barbora Krejcikova in the next round, with the Czech unseeded but only ranked eight behind Gauff on the current WTA rankings, slotting in at number 33 in the world following her maiden title clinch at Strasbourg last week. That form has stuck with Krejcikova, who despite having to overcome severe nerves and stress prior to her Round of 16 encounter, put out a huge 6-2 6-0 performance to sweep former finalist Sloane Stephens in 67 minutes.
“I woke up and I just felt really bad,” Krejcikova told media post-match. “I just felt really stressed. I don’t know why or what for. Half an hour before the match, I didn’t even want to step on the court. I had to lock myself in the physio room and I had to talk to my psychologist. I was actually crying. I just felt really, really bad, and I don’t know why. It just happened.”
“I went there on the court, and I know that it didn’t look like it, but I just felt really, really bad. I was just happy that I started well. I think after the first point, things got a little bit better, a little bit easier. Then I broke her. I just felt like, yeah, you know, I can actually play her.”
“I think I was just more stressed that I’m just not gonna be good enough. I think that’s what happened.”
But Krejcikova was more than good enough, hitting more winners (10-9) and less unforced errors (19-26), as well as winning an huge 82 per cent of her first serve points off a 61 per cent clip.
“We talked about it a lot, and she told me, ‘You know, if you can overcome this, what you feel right now, it’s going to be a huge win. It doesn’t matter if you’re gonna win on the court or lose on the court, because it’s going to be a personal win.'”
The second quarter final from this half of the draw will see reigning champion and eighth seed Iga Swiatek take on 17th seed Maria Sakkari, with the latter another player who booked her maiden grand slam quarter final with a swift 68-minute victory over fourth seed Sofia Kenin. Sakkari’s 6-1 6-3 sweep of Kenin also makes her the first Greek woman to reach the final eight of a grand slam in the Open Era.
“I knew it was going to come,” Sakkari said about her historic milestone. “I didn’t know when. But I think that I’ve been playing very good tennis, especially this year, and I don’t see why [I can’t go] further, as well.”
The Greek talent just about blew Kenin off the court during the first set, before backing it up with a clean second. She forced a whopping 32 unforced errors including nine double faults from the American, whilst hitting 19 winners to Kenin’s 14 and just 15 unforced errors to go with her 84 per cent win rate off her first serve.
“I was stressed before the match,” she said. “I was nervous because it’s a tennis match, so I want to win. But then on the other hand, I told myself, just go out there and enjoy. I know it sounds very calm and easy thing to do, but that’s actually one of the few times I’ve told myself to enjoy a match.”
“I just trusted my game and I went for it, and it worked.”
Swiatek is into her second straight quarter final at Paris, and was given the hardest time in the Round of 16 by Ukrainian teenager Marta Kostyuk, eventually reigning supreme 6-3 6-4 in just over an hour and a half during the Roland Garros night session.
“Playing the night session… is always hard, because you have to change the whole rhythm of the day, change the routines,” Swiatek said. “I like [being tested] because it keeps me constantly on my toes. It just keeps you focused all the time, because you don’t have that flow, so… you have to work all the time.
“With that flow, you sometimes can seem surprised that, ‘Hey, something is not good,’ and then you’re going to panic. But right now I’m getting tested, as you said. Still I’m moving forward, so that’s even better for me.
“It is a big achievement,” Swiatek said on court post-match. I won last year, but being in the quarter-final of a Grand Slam isn’t like an everyday thing. I’m really proud that I am doing good. I have good support with me.”
ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:
 Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated  Sofia Kenin (USA) 6-1 6-3
 Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 6-3 6-4
 Coco Gauff (USA) defeated  Ons Jabeur (TUN) 6-3 6-1
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Sloane Stephens (USA) 6-2 6-0
Picture credit: Philippe Montigny/FFT