Coco Gauff has warning for rivals after grinding out tough Indian Wells win

Gauff created a very impressive comeback in her Indian Wells opener against Clara Burel.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Coco Gauff has warning for rivals after grinding out tough Indian Wells win
© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

Coco Gauff sounded pretty happy after grinding out a tough win despite not playing her best in her Indian Wells opener and afterward warned her competition that she would stay around for at least the next decade.

On Saturday, Gauff - who is turning 20 on Tuesday - kicked off her final tournament as a teenager in Indian Wells by playing against world No. 47 Clara Burel. What was expected to be a routine win in her opening match in Indian Wells, turned out to be a pretty difficult match for Gauff, who in the end just narrowly managed to beat Burel 2-6 6-3 7-6 (4) and avoid a shock exit. 

After Burel took a 4-0 third-set lead and later also had a 5-2 lead, Gauff found herself close to a defeat. But third-seeded Gauff didn't quit and ended up creating a very impressive comeback. 

Gauff, the 2023 US Open champion, now hopes to celebrate her upcoming 20th birthday by winning her eighth WTA title in Indian Wells. 

"So now hopefully I can win a couple more in my 20s and yeah. Age is just a number. I'm going to be out here for at least another 10 years so I'll see you guys then," Gauff said in her on-court interview.

"It wasn't my best tennis but it's not about how you show up on your good days, it's about how you show up on your bad ones and I'm happy with how I showed up today."

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman
 

How Gauff came back to beat Burel?

Right from the start of the match, Gauff wasn't playing her best tennis and she got broken in the third game of the first set. While Gauff managed to get the break back instantly in the fourth game, it didn't change much as the American still easily lost the first set after suffering back-to-back breaks in the fifth and seventh games.

After losing the last four games of the first set, Gauff also lost the first two games of the second set. Down by a set and a break, Gauff responded with back-to-back breaks and winning the next five games to go 5-2 up in the second set. Burel ended Gauff's run by serving out the eighth game but the third seed closed out the second set in the following game after realizing her third set point.

Just when it seemed that all the momentum was on Gauff's side, Burel started the third set with two consecutive breaks and a 4-0 lead. Down by a double break, Gauff managed to get one break back in the fifth game. 

A couple of games later, Burel was 5-2 up - had a chance to serve out for the match in the ninth game - but got broken back to love by Gauff, who managed to survive and force a tie-break. Then in the third-set tie-break, Gauff completed her major third-set comeback as she opened a 6-2 lead before converting her third match point.

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman
 

How Gauff feels about her Indian Wells chances after a shaky start?

For Gauff, it certainly wasn't the best or ideal start to her Indian Wells run. However, Gauff remains extremely positive and optimistic that she can improve in the remainder of the tournament and ultimately make a deep run. When making her point, Gauff noted that four of her seven wins at last year's US Open came in three sets and after big fights

"Well, honestly in the past, yeah. I mean, the last tournaments I have done well usually I have a tough opening first round, especially with the biggest one was US Open," Gauff said.

"And, yeah, I think for me it's just getting through that match definitely meant a lot. Could have easily thrown in the towel. But honestly, I was just telling myself, like, win or lose, I don't want to have any regrets on the court. I want to be like I gave myself the best opportunity to win, and I did that.

"Am I proud of how I played? Not really, to be honest. But the fight, I am proud of. I am eager to improve. I think it wasn't my best tennis at all. I think I just have a lot of improvement that I can do to get better."

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman
 

For a place in the Indian Wells round-of-16, Gauff will be playing against 53rd-ranked Lucia Bronzetti, who defeated Anhelina Kalinina in the second round.

Previously, Gauff and 25-year-old Bronzetti met once - the American defeated the Italian at an ITF tournament in 2019.

Gauff may have not made a promising start in Indian Wells but she will still enter the Bronzetti match as the big favorite.

Coco Gauff Indian Wells Clara Burel
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