Coco Gauff broke new ground by reaching the quarter-finals of the French Open – and the teenager is hungry for more.
The 17-year-old American caused a sensation when she made the fourth round at Wimbledon two years ago and repeated the feat at the Australian Open in 2020.
Now she has gone one better and, if her form in a 6-3 6-1 victory over Ons Jabeur is anything to go by, she is a legitimate contender for the title.
Gauff said: “It means a lot to me, especially as I have lost in the fourth round a couple of times, so it feels good to get over that hurdle. Today I played probably my best match so far in the tournament.
“It definitely does feel different. I just feel like it’s been, I guess professional. I feel like all my matches have been straightforward wins, like no crazy three sets and stuff. As we know, I have had a lot of those in the past.
“I just feel like this has been the most consistent tennis I have played at this level. Hopefully I can keep that going.
“In the past, I felt like I was satisfied with the run I made in the tournament, so maybe I came into the matches I guess not as hungry, and I know it’s probably not a good thing to say but it’s the truth.
“With a lot of young players, I think we tend to get satisfied with, not small results, but certain results before we realise that we can really shoot for more.
“My message has always been ‘dream big and aim higher’. I think that today was honestly coming from that message of aiming higher, because I could have easily said I’m satisfied with fourth round and everything, but today I think I just came in more hungry and wanting more.”
Gauff has been in excellent form on the European clay, winning a title in Parma and rising to a career-high ranking of 25 in the world.
She was dominant in all areas against Tunisian Jabeur but particularly on serve, dropping just nine points on her own delivery in the match to cruise into the last eight.
“I’m really just focused on the match ahead of me,” said Gauff, who has been relaxing by playing the card game UNO with her family.
“I don’t want to think far. Right now I’m focused on going to sleep tonight and winning the next UNO match and then tomorrow we focus back on practice and then get ready for the quarter-finals.”
In the last eight, the teenager, who has also secured her qualification for the Tokyo Olympics, will face another first-time slam quarter-finalist – in singles at least – in Czech Barbora Krejcikova.
The 25-year-old was even more dominant, beating former finalist Sloane Stephens 6-2 6-0.
Krejcikova is better known as a doubles player but she has been climbing the singles ladder and is now on a nine-match winning run after claiming a WTA title in Strasbourg.
Fourth seed Sofia Kenin became the latest big name to go out of the women’s draw, losing 6-1 6-3 to Maria Sakkari.
Kenin, the beaten finalist last year, was the highest seed left in the tournament and had found some form in Paris after a difficult season.
But this was not a good day for the American, who served nine double faults and could not match the consistency of Sakkari, who is through to a grand slam quarter-final for the first time.
Kenin, who recently split from her father Alex as coach, said: “I had some tough matches, and I was able to win, I was able to deal with my nerves, and today obviously it’s really frustrating. I get here and I completely lose it. Obviously there’s a lot of mental work to be done.”
Sakkari has now gone two steps further than her mother, Angeliki Kanellopoulou, who twice reached the third round at Roland Garros.
Sakkari said: “She actually messaged me and she was joking, she said, ‘Oh, I forgot to tell you, I’m so sad you broke my tournament best record’. Obviously it was sarcastic.
“I was stuck in the third round a lot of times, and I wanted to just break that curse and make it to the fourth round. Now I’m excited to be in the quarter-finals for the first time.
“I knew it was going to come. I didn’t know when. But I think that I’ve been playing very good tennis, especially this year, and I don’t see why I can’t go any further, as well.”