Roland Garros Day 1 Preview & Pick: Johanna Konta vs. Coco Gauff

Roland Garros Day 1 Preview & Pick: Johanna Konta vs. Coco Gauff

How will the teenage prodigy fare in her first Roland Garros main draw against a 2019 semifinalist?

UPDATE: The 16-year-old has ousted the No. 11 seed, 6-3, 6-3. We'll have more on this result shortly.


Coco Gauff’s Grand Slam draws aren’t getting any easier. After facing Venus Williams in the first round of the 2020 Australian Open, and Anastasija Sevastova in the first round of this year’s US Open, the 16-year-old has drawn world No. 13 Johanna Konta in the first round of Roland Garros.

First things first: if a player tells you they don’t get nervous facing an opponent nearly half their age, they are lying. And there's more reason for Konta to be nervous about this particular encounter. Gauff, 13 years younger than Konta, has taken out a slew of great players in under two years on tour, including Venus, Naomi Osaka, Kiki Bertens and Aryna Sabalenka. Gauff is good, period. 

The real question ahead of this mouth-watering first rounder; was Konta’s run to the semifinal last year a fluke? Prior to 2019, Konta had fallen in four consecutive Roland Garros first rounds. Her biggest wins last year in Paris came against Donna Vekic and a struggling Sloane Stephens. Statistically, clay is Konta’s worst surface. Laser-flat groundstrokes and unrelenting aggression don’t typically fare well on clay. 

UTR

These two have never played each other, but Konta’s aggressive game doesn’t seem like it should bother the lightning-quick Gauff, who loves chasing down balls with a clear target in mind. A coach of a Top 25 player on the WTA Tour told me that athletically, Gauff reminds him of Gael Monfils; she’s that explosive.

But then he went on to critique her serve, which right now has a clear hitch (she’s averaging a whopping 7.5 double faults per match), and her forehand (which often lands too short due to her extreme western grip and propensity lean back and buggy whip the finish above her head). It’s true, short forehands like this won’t get the job done against Konta. 

This match has three-setter written all over it, and like most matches, will come down to a few key points. According to UTR, Konta's win probability is 50.2 %.Your guess is as good as mine, but Konta’s edge on serve—she ranks 10th in the WTA in service games won at 79.6%—should serve her well in the crucial, match-deciding points. 

The Pick: Johanna Konta