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How Coco Gauff is preparing for Iga Swiatek at the French Open

How Coco Gauff is preparing for Iga Swiatek at the French Open

PARIS — Marketa Vondrousova was bewildered after her quarterfinal loss to No. 1 Iga Swiatek. She had been caught up in the Swiatek hurricane on Court Philippe-Chatrier, slipping to a 6-0, 6-2 defeat. Still, at least she picked up a couple of games, unlike Swiatek’s fourth-round opponent Anastasia Potapova, who lost 6-0, 6-0. Afterward, Vondrousouva acknowledged what it is like being on the wrong end of a Swiatek masterclass.

“Yeah, it’s very tough. I feel like on the court you have nothing to offer. She’s just too strong here.”

She then summarized it: “I feel like you just go crazy every point.”

So over to you, Coco Gauff. Gauff, the 2023 US Open champion, faces Swiatek in the semifinal on Thursday at Roland Garros. For so long, Court Philippe-Chatrier was Rafael Nadal‘s domain, but that baton has been passed to Swiatek. She’s won three of the past four French Open titles and is the overwhelming favorite to add another Suzanne-Lenglen trophy to her haul on Saturday.

Swiatek and Gauff’s history also paints a one-sided picture: Swiatek has won 10 of their 11 meetings, each in straight sets.

“Look, she’s obviously No. 1 in the world, and she won this tournament, like, what, three times already,” Gauff said Tuesday after beating Ons Jabeur. “I think for me I’m just going in with confidence. I mean, when I played her in Cincinnati, I didn’t go into the match thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve never beaten her before, or taken a set off her.'”

That victory was August 19, 2023. Gauff found herself in the semifinals of the Cincinnati Open against her nemesis. She took the first set in the tiebreak and then lost the second set 3-6. But in the third, she found a way to arm wrestle it back in her favor.

“I was telling myself, ‘You’re a warrior and you can do this,”‘ she told the Tennis Channel after the win. “I was just saying, ‘I’m Coco Gauff and I can do it.'”

Three weeks later, she won her first Grand Slam in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The crowd was fully behind her on that Saturday evening in New York. That’s often the case — Gauff being a crowd favorite — but the French Open quarterfinal on Tuesday was an outlier. Fans love Jabeur here, with a strong Tunisian contingent in the stands supporting her. After losing the first set 6-4,…

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