Sloane Stephens, Coco Gauff: The surprise French Open contenders as top seeds crumble

Stephens Gauff

This year’s French Open has seen an unprecedented number of upsets, with just three of the top 10 seeds left in the competition heading into the second week.

World number one Ashleigh Barty was forced to retire in the second round because of a hip injury and Naomi Osaka withdrew from the event for mental health reasons, but the likes of Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka were simply outclassed by revitalised opposition.

Defending champion Iga Świątek remains in the hunt for back-to-back titles, while Serena Williams has found a new gear as she bids for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam.

Yet, despite the likes of Świątek and Williams emerging as the most likely winners, a number of lesser ranked players are continuing to impress.

Here’s a look at some of the remaining contenders who could go all the way in Paris:

Coco Gauff (24th seed)

Still aged just 17, Coco Gauff is the youngest woman to be seeded at a Grand Slam event since 2006 and is seemingly going from strength to strength.

The world number 25 reached the semi-finals of the Italian Open in the build-up to the tournament and won her second WTA title in Parma a week later.

The teenager came through a tough third-round test against Jennifer Brady, after the American retired hurt, but is still yet to drop a set at this year’s event.

However, Gauff will face a challenging test against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in the fourth round –– a player she lost to at the Charleston Open earlier this year.

Sloane Stephens (unseeded)

Before the Charleston Open this year, Sloane Stephens had failed to string consecutive wins together since the 2020 US Open.

Since then, though, the former world number three has rediscovered some form and recently reached the semi-final of the Parma Open.

The former US Open champion has carried this confidence into Roland-Garros and has already knocked out two seeded opposition in Karolína Muchová and Karolína Plíšková.

Next up is a third straight Czech opponent in Barbora Krejčíková. A win could set up an enthralling quarter-final matchup against Gauff.

Tamara Zidanšek (unseeded)

Ranked 85th in the world, Tamara Zidanšek had never reached beyond the second round of a Grand Slam before Roland-Garros this year.

The Slovenian has been remarkably impressive so far, upsetting sixth seed Bianca Andreescu in a three-set thriller in the first round, before impressive wins against Madison Brengle, Kateřina Siniaková and Sorana Cîrstea secured a place in the last eight.

Next up for the 23-year-old will be either 20th seed Markéta Vondroušová or Spain’s Paula Badosa.


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