She graduated from high school before Roland Garros and two weeks later here she is in a Grand Slam final for the first time in her career. At 18, American Cori Gauff will try on Sunday to be the one to stop the improbable winning streak of world number 1, Poland's Iga Swiatek.
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Barely major in Quebec and far from still being in his country, Gauff is however long awaited at this stage of a major tournament. At 15, she beat her compatriot Venus Williams at Wimbledon.
The game of comparisons did not take long in the United States, where tennis fans are looking for their next champion while Venus and her youngest Serena are now in their forties and have almost disappeared from the circuit.
But it still took time for the prodigy, known for his speed and his excellent backhand, to meet the immense expectations placed on his shoulders.
Between this victory against Williams in the first round at the All England and this final at the Porte d'Auteuil, she won two WTA titles and reached the 15th world rank in April.
“Now I'm ready [to win a Grand Slam]. But I try not to put pressure on myself, because there is a fine line between believing in yourself, and also putting too much pressure on yourself, ”said the youngest finalist in a major since the Russian Maria Sharapova, in 2004.
Young and aware
Before Paris, Gauff, 18th favorite, had never passed the quarter-final stage in a major tournament. Here she is now in the final without having missed a single heat in the whole fortnight.
In the semi-finals, she flew past Quebecer Leylah Fernandez, Italian Martina Trevisan, 59th in the world, 6-3 and 6-1.
And beyond his masterful performance, it was the words "end gun violence", signed on the camera lens at the end of the match, that caught the attention.
"I woke up thinking, 'there's been a new shooting' [making four people dead in a hospital in Oklahoma on Thursday], and that's crazy," Gauff said. This is a topic that has been close to my heart for a long time. We really have to do something. »
Because despite her great talent, the American says that tennis is not everything in her life. That's why she was so proud of her high school diploma, obtained by combining studies and professional tennis. She also celebrated it in style before the tournament, posing in a toga in front of the Eiffel Tower.
"I have to pay attention to my surroundings, not just put myself in a bubble where you only think about tennis," she added. [...] My team, my parents encourage me. They tell me that I can change the world with my racket. »
But Sunday, it will mainly be about tennis in the life of "Coco", who will not only play the final in singles (around 9 a.m. Quebec time), but also in women's doubles alongside another American, Jessica Pegula. .
And at 18, does she believe that she will deprive Swiatek, three years her senior, of a 35th victory in a row and a second title at Roland-Garros?
"I have nothing to lose by facing him," she said. It is certainly the favorite on paper. But when I step onto the court, I'll play it casual, I'll play my best tennis, and whatever happens, happens. »
Quebecer Leylah Fernandez will miss the Wimbledon tournament at the end of June due to a stress fracture in her right foot.
The father and coach of the 18th player in the world, Jorge Fernandez, confirmed the news to the TSN network on Friday. She hopes to be back for the Washington tournament in early August.
Leylah was injured in her quarter-final match at Roland-Garros, which she ultimately lost in three sets at the hands of the Italian Martina Trevisan, 59th.
The 19-year-old Lavalloise said after the game that she felt the pain before stepping on the field. She was also seen with crutches afterwards.
On her Instagram account on Thursday, Fernandez posted a photo of her foot in an orthopedic walking boot, indicating that she was headed “home” to undergo treatments.