PARIS: American teenager Coco Gauff made an impressive return to the Grand Slam stage when she brushed aside last year’s semi-finalist Johanna Konta 6-3 6-3 in her main draw debut at the French Open to advance into the second round on Sunday.
Less than a month after a first-round exit at the U.S. Open, Gauff was all business on a floodlit Court Suzanne Lenglen in front of a dozen spectators in chilly Parisian weather.
The 16-year-old, the youngest player in the main draw whose best result at a Grand Slam was reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open earlier this year, will next face Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan.
Gauff admitted she was nervous before entering the court, but a little chat with her father helped settle the jitters.
“Honestly, my dad told me something in the warmup,” she said. “His goal was to become an NBA player, and he didn’t make it. He told me, you’re living your dream, not everybody gets to do that, just have fun on the court.”
“That really changed my perspective. I was really nervous going into the match. That just calmed me down. I realized it’s just a tennis match. I’m doing some things that people wish they could do. Just go out there and enjoy it.”
Gauff got off to a flying start, breezing through the opening set before dropping serve early in the second, allowing British ninth seed Konta to move 2-0 up.
But the American broke straight back, and again in a nine-minute fifth game to move 3-2 up, following up on serve to lead 4-2.
She served for the match at 5-2 but Konta broke back for 5-3, only for the Briton to collapse in the following game, bowing out on the second match point when she netted a routine shot.