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French Open 2021: Coco Gauff advances to 3rd round for first time ever

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Action at the French Open rolls on, and Thursday has already brought a major upset and a major retirement. Follow along below for the latest upsets and surprises.

Coco Gauff breaks new ground, through to 3rd round

Coco Gauff, ranked No. 24, set a best-of mark for herself at the French Open on Thursday. Just a few days after winning her first-ever Grand Slam match as a seeded competitor, she defeated China's Wang Qiang 6-3, 7-6(1) to advance to the third round for the very first time. 

Gauff faced Qiang in the finals of the Emilia-Romagna Open just a few weeks ago and cruised to an easy 6-1, 6-3 win. It wasn't as easy this time. She jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first set, but things got more difficult after that. Qiang started steadily improving and forcing Gauff to change up her tactics. Gauff eventually won the first set after Qiang had a bit of a surge, but the second set was a battle. With the match on the line for Gauff, the set headed to a tiebreak, but it didn't take long. Gauff dominated 6-1 and beat Qiang once again.

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With her second-round win, Gauff has now made it to at least the third round of all four Grand Slam tournaments. She'll face No. 13 Jen Brady in her next match.

Sloane Stephens upsets Karolina Pliskova

It was a long, hard-fought match, but American Sloane Stephens got it done. Stephens, ranked No. 59 in the world, upset No. 9 Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 6-1 in the second round on Thursday. 

Pliskova worked Stephens hard during the match, especially after Stephens was seen catching her breath early on. Stephens had to fly all around the court, but her skill at sliding on clay was on full display. She was dominant on first serve, winning 74% to Pliskova's 51%, and she was also able to take advantage of Pliskova's sloppiness. Pliskova made 38 unforced errors, while Stephens made just 18, and they essentially cost her the match. She hit several balls directly into the net, and she lost the final point of the game on one of the numerous balls she hit out of bounds. 

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The first set was a lengthy 60 minutes, but then Stephens was able to close it out in just a half hour. Her win against Pliskova is her first against a top 10 opponent since the 2018 WTA Championships more than two years ago. She'll now face No. 19 Karolina Muchova in the third round. 

Ash Barty retires with injury

The No. 1-ranked women's tennis player in the world, Ash Barty, is out of the French Open. She withdrew during her second-round match against Magda Linette with a hip injury that had flared up just before she started competing at Roland-Garros. 

It was obvious from the start that Barty was struggling. She went down 1-6 in her first set, and with the score tied at 2-2 in the second set, she signaled that she wasn't able to continue. 

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Barty, who won the French Open in 2019, needed an injury timeout during her three-set first-round win against Bernarda Pera. Following her injury retirement on Thursday, Barty said that her injury has caused her no small amount of distress this week, but that she's hoping something good will eventually come from it. 

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