French Open 2023: Coco Gauff plays Mirra Andreeva at Roland Garros

French Open 2023: Coco Gauff plays Mirra Andreeva at Roland Garros
_129973693_gettyimages-1495302444.jpgMirra Andreeva is making her Grand Slam senior debut at Roland GarrosDates: 28 May-11 June Venue: Roland Garros, ParisCoverage: Live text and radio commentaries of selected matches across BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra, the BBC Sport website and app

Hearing 19-year-old Coco Gauff talk about playing an opponent younger than her feels rather strange.

The American bursting onto the scene as a 15-year-old at Wimbledon in 2019 remains fresh in the memory and, while she is already a Grand Slam finalist and now an experienced WTA player, it is easy to forget she is still a teenager.

On Saturday, Gauff will be in the rare position of being the older player when she faces 16-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva in the French Open third round.

"I feel like age really doesn't play a factor when we step on the court," said sixth seed Gauff.

"Maybe there could be an experience thing that maybe could show, but honestly I really doubt it when it's someone of her level.

"I think she knows the game well, and she's proved her position to be here and proved in her results in the past, so I don't think the age thing matters."

Andreeva, who only celebrated her birthday at the end of April, is following in the footsteps of Gauff as a prodigious youngster defying expectation.

Announcing her arrival on the professional scene by reaching the Madrid Open quarter-finals, she has continued to make headlines by cruising into the last 32 at Roland Garros.

So far, she has not dropped a set in her two victories over American Alison Riske-Amritraj and French youngster Diane Parry.

Andreeva's personality has also endeared her to tennis fans, particularly after she described British former world number one Andy Murray as "beautiful" and "amazing".

Asked the key to being successful at such a young age, Andreeva said: "Maybe it is, as my coach says, to not be like diva, like to stay humble all the time."

Roles reversed for Gauff

_129973988_gettyimages-1495174105.jpgCoco Gauff reached the final of the French Open in 2022

The teenagers play second on Court Suzanne Lenglen - the French Open's second show-court - at about 13:00 BST on Saturday.

In the professional ranks, Gauff has twice played opponents younger than her, beating fellow American Robin Montgomery in San Diego last year and Czech Linda Noskova at Indian Wells this year.

"I'm sure she's not thinking about her age on the court. And all the people who've played against me when I was her age, I don't know if they were thinking about my age. I doubt they were," said Gauff.

"I've never thought about my age, to be honest.

"This will be my third time playing someone younger than me. The first two times I didn't even think about it because when you step on the court, you just see your opponent, and you don't really think about the personal side of things.

"You just see forehand, backhand, serve, and all the same."

Gauff and Andreeva are meeting for the first time in a competitive match, although they are familiar with each other having practised together.

"She plays quite aggressive," said Andreeva, who is fast approaching the world's top 100.

"But the practice and the match is different, so I might also play different. I don't know. Who knows? We will see what will happens."

What else is happening on Saturday?

Wimbledon champion and fourth seed Elena Rybakina kicks off the action on Court Philippe Chatrier when she takes on Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo from 10:45 BST.

Norwegian men's sixth seed Holger Rune, fresh from an extra day's rest from his walkover after Gael Monfils' retirement, follows against Argentina's Genaro Alberto Olivieri, before women's world number one Iga Swiatek takes the court to face China's Wang Xinyu.

The omission of women from the night session on Chatrier continues, with 12th seed Frances Tiafoe's third-round encounter with 22nd seed Alexander Zverev picked for the prime slot.

All six night matches of this year's tournament have been selected from the men's draw, drawing anger from those who want to see the women's game showcased more.

After Cameron Norrie's third-round exit in the singles on Friday, British hopes lie solely in the doubles with Neal Skupski, Joe Salisbury and Jamie Murray all in action.

In the men's doubles third round, Skupski and Dutch partner Wesley Koolhof - the top seeds - face Kazakhstan's Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Mexico's Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela.

Second seeds Salisbury and Rajeev Ram, of the United States, take on Argentina's Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni, while Murray and his Kiwi partner Michael Venus play third seeds Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador and Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands.

Skupski will also play in the mixed doubles on Saturday, as he and Mexico's Giuliana Olmos face Dutchman Matwe Middelkoop and Indonesia's Aldila Sutjiadi.

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