L.A. Times: Round of 16 Preview Who Can Stop Swiatek and Gauff From Another Showdown?

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The Round of 16 is set at Roland Garros, and for the first time in more than a decade, the top four seeds have made it through 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 through their first three matches, but it was the three-time champion and favorite who came scarily close to an early exit.
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World No.1 Swiatek saved a match point in the headline duel of Week 1, defeating former No.1 Naomi Osaka 7-6(1), 1-6, 7-5 in the second round. 

With that test out of the way, the big question going into the second week is who will stand in the way of a Swiatek-Gauff semifinal?

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

The top half of the draw will get underway on Sunday, with a slate that includes four Grand Slam veterans and four second-week debutantes. 

[1] Iga Swiatek vs. Anastasia Potapova

Head-to-head: First meeting

This will be the first meeting between the two 23-year-olds since they were 16 in juniors. That match came right here in Paris, with Potapova winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 in the 2016 girls quarterfinals. Swiatek brings to the table her 17-match win streak at Roland Garros. Potapova is into her first Round of 16 at a Slam, paving her way with wins over Kamila Rakhimova, Viktorija Golubic and Wang Xinyu.

The most important thing for Swiatek after her second-round Houdini act was to reset quickly. She did just that in the third round to beat Marie Bouzkova in straight sets.  


The Round of 16 is set at Roland Garros, and for the first time in more than a decade, the top four seeds have made it through 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 through their first three matches, but it was the three-time champion and favorite who came scarily close to an early exit.

World No.1 Swiatek saved a match point in the headline duel of Week 1, defeating former No.1 Naomi Osaka 7-6(1), 1-6, 7-5 in the second round. 

With that test out of the way, the big question going into the second week is who will stand in the way of a Swiatek-Gauff semifinal?

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

The top half of the draw will get underway on Sunday, with a slate that includes four Grand Slam veterans and four second-week debutantes.

[1] Iga Swiatek vs. Anastasia Potapova

Head-to-head: First meeting

This will be the first meeting between the two 23-year-olds since they were 16 in juniors. That match came right here in Paris, with Potapova winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 in the 2016 girls quarterfinals. Swiatek brings to the table her 17-match win streak at Roland Garros. Potapova is into her first Round of 16 at a Slam, paving her way with wins over Kamila Rakhimova, Viktorija Golubic and Wang Xinyu.

The most important thing for Swiatek after her second-round Houdini act was to reset quickly. She did just that in the third round to beat Marie Bouzkova in straight sets.  

Which player in the top half of the Roland Garros draw has the best chance to create a fourth-round upset?

  • Potapova over Swiatek
  • Danilovic over Vondrousova
  • Cocciaretto over Gauff
  • Tauson over Jabeur

“I could also rest physically because this match was for sure demanding,” Swiatek said, referring to her day off between matches. “I felt good today. Like, I can just proceed with having a solid tournament even though I was in trouble against Naomi for sure.”

[Q] Olga Danilovic vs. [5] Marketa Vondrousova 

Head-to-head: Vondrousova leads 1-0

The reigning Wimbledon champion came through a tough three-set win over Katie Volynets in the second round, but the Czech has otherwise eased through her early draw. She beat Danilovic in January at the United Cup, but she needed three sets to do it. 

Danilovic, 23, has been outstanding in Paris. She ousted two-time semifinalist Martina Trevisan in her opener, and then pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament so far, knocking out 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 match-tiebreak, 0-6, 7-5, 7-6(8).

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

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

[3] Coco Gauff vs. Elisabetta Cocciaretto

Head-to-head: Gauff leads 2-0

Gauff is motoring through her matches in Paris. She has not lost more than four games in her six sets. And the double faults that plagued her for the early part of the clay season seem to be under control. In every way, Gauff looks great. And she’s never lost a set to Cocciaretto.

It’s easy to take Gauff’s consistent success for granted. It feels like she’s been doing it for so long that we blow past the fact that she is still 20 years old. She now has 18 wins at Roland Garros, one more than Chris Evert managed before turning 21. 

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

In Cocciaretto, Gauff will face down the player who has done the most heavy lifting in the first week. The 23-year-old Italian is into her first second week at a major by knocking out two quality seeds, No.13 and 2023 semifinalist Beatriz Haddad Maia and big-hitting 17th-seed Liudmila Samsonova. She is the youngest Italian woman to make the Round of 16 at the French Open since Francesca Schiavone in 2001. 

Clara Tauson vs. [8] Ons Jabeur

Head-to-head: First tour-level meeting

Last year, Swiatek anointed Jabeur as the second best clay-court player on tour. This year, the Tunisian came into her favorite Slam well under the radar. Her results leading into Roland Garros indicated a player still searching for her confidence and best tennis, but the positive signs were there. In Stuttgart, she ended a five-match losing streak. In Madrid, she made her biggest quarterfinal of the year. 

One week later, Jabeur is a win away from matching her best French Open result and making her first major quarterfinal since losing in the Wimbledon final last summer. 

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

It won’t be easy against No.72 Tauson. She’s a powerful baseliner who has been a hot prospect for years. Her progress up the rankings has been held back by injuries, but the Dane has looked dangerous once again in Paris. She knocked out No.9 seed Jelena Ostapenko in three sets in the second round and ended a surging run from Sofia Kenin in the third. 

“It’s been difficult for me, because when I was 18, 19, I was doing really well, but then I got injured,” Tauson said. “I think as a woman, you have to really grow into your body and your mental. I’m still learning, and I think I will keep learning.

“I think I’m getting more comfortable with the way I’m playing and more determined in the way that I play and I’ll keep on playing like that and don’t try to play anybody else’s game than my own.”

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