Day 5 Diary: Mirra dreams of winning 25 Slams

Breakout 16-year-old Andreeva sets third-round Gauff showdown

Mirra Andreeva, 2e tour, Roland-Garros 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Dan Imhoff

In a likely glimpse into the future of women's tennis, an all-teenage clash is set following Mirra Andreeva's and Coco Gauff's respective wins, while an emotional Daniel Altmaier will be savouring the ice bath after his marathon upset of eighth seed Jannik Sinner.

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Andreeva keeps winning hearts

Possessing composure and charm well beyond her years, 16-year-old Andreeva is winning a whole swag of new fans with each passing victory.

The youngest player to reach the third round in Paris since 15-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva reached the 2005 quarter-finals, Andreeva won her fifth match in straight sets on Thursday (through qualifying and main draw), downing French hope Diane Parry to set a clash with sixth seed Coco Gauff .

The Cannes-based teenager reiterated her coach’s key advice in dealing with such sudden success at a young age.

“As my coach says, to not be like diva, like to stay humble all the time,” Andreeva said. “Even though I don't think that I have a lot of success now, you know. I didn't win any tournaments. I just play. It's the third round of Roland-Garros I will play.”

Two goals became apparent following the teenage qualifier’s 6-1, 6-2 win over Parry.

First, her dream opponent.

“I would like to play Ons Jabeur because I like the way she plays, and I think our game is quite, let's say, similar,” Andreeva said. “So I would like to play her.”

That match-up could not play out at Roland-Garros until the semi-finals this fortnight but if both continue on their winning ways, it is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Second, her longer-term ambitions.

“I know that Djokovic, he did 22 Grand Slams or 23, so I want to go until 25, if it will be possible. I don't know,” she said.

“But I will just play. For now my goal is to win match by match, to win next match.”

Altmaier's moment

The tears flowed as Daniel Altmaier stood before a packed Court Suzanne-Lenglen crowd and the cheers rose again and again amid a standing ovation for his efforts against eighth seed Jannik Sinner.

The German world No.79 saved two match points in the fourth set and needed five of his own to beat the Italian 6-7(0), 7-6(7), 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-5.

After reaching the fourth round in Paris four years ago, he had fallen in the first round of the past five majors.

“Playing every point you can with the best effort, that definitely keeps you in reality,” the 24-year-old said. “I was just thinking of that and well, the competition says it all. I think we have had historical matches.

“There were so many match points there, there and there. I don't know if you can call it a historical match but I think it was one to remember.

“I love clay and I love the crowd, everything, so the emotions were crazy.”

Red or green no drama for Gauff

Last year’s finalist Coco Gauff admits she’s a true American, growing up learning to play on hard courts.

The 19-year-old found competing on the unpredictable green clay stateside was a good initiation for the jump to red clay in Europe.

“I'm going to be honest, playing on green clay in the US is really bad and slippery so I'm used to the bad courts,” Gauff said following her 6-2, 6-3 win over Julia Grabher. “Here the courts aren't bad even though it is a little bit drier today. I feel used to it and honestly I think I’m a great mover and adjust pretty well to the conditions…

“Obviously the wetter courts are a little more predictable but the drier courts are a little more fun because sometimes you slide even more, like that one ball I almost ran into the net (today).”

Cori Gauff, 1er tour, Roland-Garros 2023©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

Noah cheers on Tiafoe’s deepest run

Roland-Garros has not been Frances Tiafoe’s most prosperous of Slams in the past.

After seeing off the threat of former Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev to reach the third round for the first time on Thursday, the 12th seed was setting his sights further.

“Honestly, (it means) nothing. Kinda want to go deeper than the third round,” Tiafoe said. “Obviously in the past haven't done great here but it's a new year and I’m a different player ,so trying to see how far I can go.”

The American registered his 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 victory on Court Simonne-Mathieu before French former NBA basketballer Joakim Noah.

“I definitely enjoy it, guys like him coming out to watch,” Tiafoe said. “So many other things he could be doing and he decided to come and watch me so that means a lot to me.”

Joakim Noah, Jill Smoller, Queen Latifah, Frances Tiafo's player box, Roland-Garros 2023 first round© Julien Crosnier/FFT

Zhang, Wang fly the flag for China

One of three Chinese men in the main draw in Paris for the first time, world No.71 Zhang Zhizhen is breaking new ground.

A straight-sets triumph over Argentine Thiago Agustin Tirante has made Zhang the first Chinese man in the Open Era to reach the third round of Roland-Garros.

“For me is not a pressure to be here,” the 26-year-old, who will face fourth seed Casper Ruud next, said. “I mean, here try to show my best… show everything what I have and try to compete with those guys.

“That's the reason why I'm here. It's nothing pressure for me.”

Former junior world No.2 Wang Xinyu made it a good day for Chinese tennis when she also reached her maiden third round at a major.

The 21-year-old saw off Rebecca Peterson in straight sets to set a showdown with top seed Iga Swiatek.

Zhang Zhizhen, Roland-Garros, second round©Clément Mahoudeau/FFT