Coco Gauff, the youngest woman remaining in the French Open draw, reached the fourth round at Roland Garros beating Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 6-4 on Friday.
Gauff, 18, was a toddler when Estonia’s Kanepi – who at 36 was the oldest woman remaining – played the first of her two French Open quarter-finals in 2008. On Friday, Gauff had six aces and five double faults, while Kanepi made 29 unforced errors.
“I knew it was going to be a tough game. [She] to beat [former champion Garbine] Muguruza in the first round. … I knew today would be close,” said Gauff, who had her best Grand Slam result when she reached the French Open quarter-finals last year. “I come to France since I was 10 years old and trained at the Mouratoglou academy, so I guess that might not make me a clay-court expert, but not bad at it.”
Gauff hasn’t dropped a set in her first three matches. She will next face No. 31 Elise Mertens, who beat Varvara Gracheva 6-2, 6-3.
Kanepi broke in the opener, but Gauff fought back hard, winning the next five games with a flurry of winners on the Suzanne Lenglen court. Kanepi took a 3-2 lead in the second set but her hopes of a comeback were cut short as she again lost serve when she buried an easy backhand into the net after a poorly executed bunt from Gauff.
Serving at 4-3, Gauff held and closed the game on serve when Kanepi committed his 29th unforced error.
In other results, Angelique Kerber’s quest to complete a career Grand Slam came to an end after the 21st seed lost 6-4, 7-6(5) to Aliaksandra Sasnovich. Sasnovich will head into the fourth round of the clay major for the first time.
US Open finalists Leylah Fernandez and Amanda Anisimova, who will meet in the fourth round, also advanced on Friday.
Fernandez defeated Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 at Court Philippe Chatrier. Anisimova advanced when Karolina Muchova stopped playing after injuring her right ankle.
The 17th-seeded Fernandez smashed Bencic in game 11 of the deciding set and served the match. She had saved two set points in the first game.
27th seed Anisimova, an American who reached the Roland Garros semi-finals aged 17 in 2019 and knocked out four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka in the first round this year, led 6-7(7), 6 -2, 3 -0 when Muchova walked to the net to concede the game.
Muchova twisted his right foot while serving at 2 everywhere in the second set. She went to the sidelines during that match to be examined by a doctor and coach, who bandaged her ankle.
When play resumed after the medical timeout, Muchova lost seven straight before retiring from the game.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.