Who can stop Swiatek and Gauff from another showdown?

Who can stop Swiatek and Gauff from another showdown?

The round of 16 takes place at Roland Garros and, for the first time in over a decade, the top four seeds have advanced to the second week. World No. 1 Iga Swiatek, No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka, No. 3 Coco Gauff and No. 4 Elena Rybakina have taken care of business in their first three matches, but she is the three-time champion and favorite who approached frighteningly. an early exit.

World No. 1 Swiatek saved a match point in Week 1’s showpiece duel, beating former No. 1 Naomi Osaka 7-6(1), 1-6, 7-5 in the second round.

With this test over, the big question in week two is who will stand in the way of a Swiatek-Gauff semi-final?

The American has looked lively in her three matches, operating quietly under the radar. The US Open may be Gauff’s crowning achievement to date, but Roland Garros has always been his best Grand Slam. Only Swiatek has managed to beat her in the last two seasons, winning the 2022 final and the 2023 quarterfinals. The two played in the semifinals in Rome two weeks ago. Swiatek won 6-4, 6-3.

The first half of the draw begins on Sunday, with a roster including four Grand Slam veterans and four week two debutants.

(1) Iga Swiatek vs. Anastasia Potapova

Face to face: first meeting

This will be the first meeting between the two 23-year-olds since they were 16 years old in juniors. This match took place right here in Paris, with Potapova winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 in the 2016 girls’ quarterfinals. Swiatek puts her 17-match winning streak at Roland Garros on the table. Potapova enters her first round of 16 at a slam, paving the way for wins over Kamila Rakhimova, Viktorija Golubic and Wang Xinyu.

The most important thing for Swiatek after her Houdini act in the second round was to reset quickly. That’s exactly what she did in the third round to beat Marie Bouzkova in straight sets.

“I was also able to rest physically because this match was certainly demanding,” Swiatek said, referring to his day off between matches. “I felt good today. I can just have a solid tournament even though I had problems against Naomi, that’s for sure.”

(Q) Olga Danilovic vs. (5) Marketa Vondrousova

Head to head: Vondrousova leads 1-0

The reigning Wimbledon champion earned a tough three-set victory over Katie Volynets in the second round, but the Czech otherwise managed her early draw. She beat Danilovic in January at the United Cup, but it took her three sets to do so.

Danilovic, 23, was exceptional in Paris. She ousted two-time semifinalist Martina Trevisan in her first match, then pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament so far, eliminating red-hot Danielle Collins 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 in the second round . The dramatic heroics continued in the third round, where she came back to beat Donna Vekic in a deciding match, 0-6, 7-5, 7-6(8).

“I was born on clay,” Danilovic said. “In Europe, normally we all have clay courts that we have played since we were young. I like long points. I like to be creative on the court. It’s something I enjoy here at Paris.

“I don’t know why, to be honest, and like I said before, I don’t want to know why, because that’s the magic of it. But every game I get is like a blessing, and playing in the greatest stages of our sport is a blessing.

(3) Coco Gauff against Elisabetta Cocciaretto

Head to head: Gauff leads 2-0

Gauff takes part in his matches in Paris. She has not lost more than four matches in six sets. And the double faults that hit her at the start of the clay court season seem to be under control. By all accounts, Gauff looks great. And she never lost a set against Cocciaretto.

It’s easy to take Gauff’s consistent success for granted. It feels like she’s been doing this for so long that we forget the fact that she’s still 20 years old. She now has 18 victories at Roland Garros, one more than Chris Evert won before he turned 21.

“It’s very cool to be in the same stat line as these great players, but honestly, they’re on their own level,” Gauff said. “Chris Evert, I’m nowhere near where she was or where she is, but it’s very cool. It motivates me because it makes me feel like I’m on the right track.”

In Cocciaretto, Gauff will face the player who did most of the work in the first week. The 23-year-old Italian begins her first second week at a major tournament by knocking out two quality seeds, 13th and 2023 semi-finalist Beatriz Haddad Maia and 17th seed Liudmila Samsonova. She is the youngest Italian to reach the round of 16 at Roland Garros since Francesca Schiavone in 2001.

Clara Tauson against (8) Ons Jabeur

Face-to-face: first tour-level meeting

Last year, Swiatek named Jabeur the second best clay court player on tour. This year, the Tunisian entered her favorite Grand Slam far from the radar. Her results before Roland Garros indicated that she was still searching for her confidence and her best tennis, but the positive signs were there. In Stuttgart, she ended a streak of five consecutive defeats. In Madrid, she achieved her biggest quarter-final of the year.

A week later, Jabeur is one victory away from matching his best result at Roland Garros and appearing in his first major quarterfinal since losing in the Wimbledon final last summer.

“I just remind everyone that I’m still here,” Jabeur said. “It’s also nice to prove myself because I’ve been in a bad place for months trying to come back and regain my confidence.”

It won’t be easy against No. 72 Tauson. She is a powerful baseline player who has been an interesting prospect for years. Her progress in the rankings was hampered by injuries, but the Dane once again looked dangerous in Paris. She knocked out No. 9 seed Jelena Ostapenko in three sets in the second round and ended a surging run by Sofia Kenin in the third.

“It was tough for me, because when I was 18 or 19, I was doing great, but then I got injured,” Tauson said. “I think as a woman you really have to grow in your body and your mind. I’m still learning and I think I will continue to learn.

“I think I’m getting more and more comfortable with the way I play and more determined in the way I play. I’m going to continue to play like that and not try to play someone else’s game. other than mine.”