Johanna Konta, a semifinalist at the French Open in 2019, faces a stern test against teenage phenomenon Coco Gauff in…
Johanna Konta, a semifinalist at the French Open in 2019, faces a stern test against teenage phenomenon Coco Gauff in the first round of Roland Garros.
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Konta vs Gauff is live from Roland Garros on Sunday 27 September, time TBC
After years of mediocre results on the surface, Johanna Konta found her feet on clay in 2019 and went all the way to the French Open semifinals as a result, but she faces some stern challenges if she is to repeat that feat in 2020.
The first – and maybe last – is 16-year-old Coco Gauff, who has already made runs to the second week at Wimbledon and the Australian Open. Can she start the 2020 French Open by ousting the ninth seed?
Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.
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Konta vs Gauff: Head-to-head
This is the first match between Johanna Konta and Coco Gauff.
Konta vs Gauff: Preview
The emergence of Johanna Konta as a force on clay was one of the surprises of the 2019 season for me, but once she started winning matches, it seemed quite natural: Of course Konta’s big serve and big forehand, combined with painstakingly improved leg-strength and movement, would be effective on clay even if it isn’t a conventional clay-court game.
The British player compiled a 15-4 record on the surface, reaching the finals of Rabat and Rome and the semifinals of Roland Garros, scoring wins over the likes of Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, Kiki Bertens and Marketa Vondrousova, although it was Vondrousova who eventually stopped her French Open run.
Konta also made the quarterfinals of Wimbledon and the US Open during that brilliant 40-16 season, but 2020 hasn’t quite lived up to it (partly for obvious reasons); the world no. 13 is 8-8 coming into the French Open, with her best results semifinal finishes in Monterrey and ‘Cincinnati’, and she had a surprising second-round loss to an inspired Sorana Cirstea at the US Open which nobody expected.
Defeated 6-4, 6-1 by Garbine Muguruza in Rome, Konta has at least had a fair amount of match practice since shutdown. Coco Gauff has also had a fair amount; she made the semifinals in Lexington, but went 0-2 in ‘Cincinnati’ and at the US Open with defeats to Maria Sakkari and Anastasija Sevastova.
Gauff also lost to Muguruza in Rome, but pushed the Spaniard to a third set and coupled with a win over Ons Jabeur in the first round, the signs are very positive for the young American on clay. Her inexperience on this surface is a real factor, however; she has also played seven matches on European clay, and only two of those have been at WTA Tour main-draw level (the two she played in Rome).
While Gauff’s game should translate perfectly well to clay, it might take her some time to figure out the best way to play on it. Not so for Konta, who only really has one way to play; first-strike tennis, landing the big serve and looking for the forehand.
It’s going to be a challenge to get the ball through the court in these cold, damp conditions, and this is likely to be determined by who serves better. Konta’s greater experience edges it, but I anticipate a three-set duel to kick off the French Open on Sunday.