French Open 2023: Coco Gauff wins after waiting out marathon; Alcaraz, Djokovic on court Friday
PARIS (AP) — Coco Gauff thought she was about to head out on the court to play her second-round match at the French Open.
“I was probably about 70% done with my warmup,” last year’s runner-up at Roland Garros would say later.
Made sense: In the contest preceding hers in Court Suzanne Lenglen on Thursday, No. 8 seed Jannik Sinner was serving for the victory while up 5-4 in the fourth set against Daniel Altmaier. Then Sinner was one point away. Except he couldn’t convert that match point — he had a chance for a putaway overhead, and instead basically sent the ball right at Altmaier, whose forehand in response hit the top of the net tape and fluttered past Sinner — or another that arrived soon after.
They would play on for another 1 hour, 43 minutes, until Altmaier finally cashed in his own fifth match point with a 111 mph ace down the middle to seal the 6-7 (0), 7-6 (7), 1-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5 victory.
“A great turnaround,” said Altmaier, who cried and cried after the nearly 5 1/2-hour marathon. “The emotions were crazy.”
So how did Gauff whittle away the time?
Watching Sinner vs. Altmaier, for one thing. Snacking, for another — on a fruit salad made by her dad, with cantaloupe, pineapple and watermelon. And, well, resting.
“I almost fell asleep in the middle of the fifth,” Gauff said. “I was like, ‘I wish I could see the future, because I probably would have taken a nap in the fourth.”
After the delay, the 19-year-old American ended up beating Julia Grabher 6-2, 6-3 in 1 hour, 8 minutes. Next for Gauff will be a third-round matchup on Saturday against 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva of Russia.
WHO PLAYS FRIDAY?
Court Philippe Chatrier will feature some of the sport’s top players as the third round wraps up: Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Aryna Sabalenka and Jessica Pegula. Over on Lenglen, No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas, the French Open runner-up in 2021, faces Diego Schwartzman, while No. 7 Andrey Rublev plays Lorenzo Sonego. Peyton Stearns, a 21-year-old American who won the NCAA title for the University of Texas last year, will try to knock off No. 9 seed Daria Kasatkina, a semifinalist a year ago.
WHEN ARE FRIDAY’S MATCHES?
Play begins at 11 a.m. local time in Paris, which is 5 a.m. EDT, everywhere except the main stadium, Court Philippe Chatrier, where the first match — No. 3 Pegula vs. No. 28 Elise Mertens — is scheduled to start at 11:45 a.m. local time, which is 5:45 a.m. EDT. That’s followed by No. 2 Sabalenka vs. Kamilla Rakhimova, which could begin around 3 p.m. local time or 9 a.m. EDT. Next comes No. 3 Djokovic vs. No. 29 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Alcaraz meets No. 26 Denis Shapovalov for the night session which starts at 8:15 p.m. local time, 2:15 p.m. EDT.
WHAT HAPPENED THURSDAY?
Top-ranked Iga Swiatek kept her title defense on track. The two-time French Open champion has yet to be challenged and faces another unseeded opponent, Xinyu Wang, in the third round. No. 4 seed Elena Rybakina, the Wimbledon champion, also cruised to victory. And 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva advanced again in her Grand Slam debut. On the men’s side, Casper Ruud, the No. 4 seed who was runner-up to Rafael Nadal last year, reached the third round.
CAN AI HELP STOP CYBERBULLYING AND DEATH THREATS?
Frances Tiafoe says he receives death threats via social media after he loses professional tennis matches. So do other players. In a bid to try to protect athletes from that sort of abuse, the French Tennis Federation is paying a company to provide players with software that uses artificial intelligence to block these sorts of negative comments.
GET CAUGHT UP
What you need to know about the year’s second Grand Slam tennis tournament:
– Rafael Nadal is not here
– Djokovic can break a tie with Nadal by winning Slam No. 23
– Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina split past four major titles
– Alcaraz, Djokovic drawn to meet in the semifinals
– First-round opponents for Alcaraz, Djokovic do not find them ‘otherworldly’
– 3 Chinese men in main draw at Roland Garros
– Elina Svitolina wins her first Grand Slam match as a mother
– Facts and figures about the French Open, including a look back at 2022
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE
Try your hand at the AP’s latest tennis quiz here.
Kasatkina is listed at minus-245 to beat Stearns, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, while Musetti is a slight favorite against Norrie. Alcaraz remains the favorite to win the men’s championship at plus-135, followed by Djokovic at plus-190. Just as she has been since before the tournament began, Swiatek is an overwhelming pick for the women’s title at minus-125.
THE NUMBER TO KNOW
12 — Number of seeded women left in the French Open after two rounds, the fewest since the field expanded from 16 to 32 seeds in 2002. The previous low was the 13 in 2020, when the tournament was shifted to late September and October because of the coronavirus pandemic. On the men’s side, 19 seeds are still in the bracket.
THE QUOTE TO KNOW
“A tough one to swallow.” — No. 8 seed Jannik Sinner after his five-set loss to Daniel Altmaier.
HOW TO WATCH
-In the U.S.: Tennis Channel, NBC, Peacock.
-In France: France TV, Amazon Prime.
-Other countries listed here.
UPCOMING SINGLES SCHEDULE
-Friday-Saturday: Third Round (Women and Men)
-Sunday-Monday: Fourth Round (Women and Men)
-June 6-7: Quarterfinals (Women and Men)
-June 8: Women’s Semifinals
-June 9: Men’s Semifinals
-June 10: Women’s Final
-June 11: Men’s Final
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