What we learned from Gauff's triumph over Konta

 - Dan Imhoff

In an impressive main draw debut, 16-year-old Coco Gauff adds last year's semi-finalist to her list of victims

Coco Gauff, Roland Garros 2020 first round© Julien Crosnier/FFT

Under dreary skies on the court that crowned her a junior champion, Coco Gauff ensured a flawless main draw debut at each of the four majors on Monday.

Her victory over No.9 seed and last year’s semi-finalist, Johanna Konta, came without the on-court fanfare, which swept across her big-stadia triumphs at the All England Club, Flushing Meadows and Melbourne Park.

That was not to dampen her impressive result on Court Suzanne-Lenglen. The 6-3, 6-3 victory added Konta to a Grand Slam first-round victim list, which already included Venus Williams, twice.

Add to that her biggest upset over defending champion Naomi Osaka in the third round of this year’s Australian Open and it makes for an already hefty tally of names.

Here are the top things we learnt from Gauff’s first-round win in Paris.

Double faults do not always cost you

As unflappable a teenager as Gauff appears, those Grand Slam nerves proved difficult to suppress at the business end of both sets on Sunday.

Serving for the opening set at 5-3, she sent down five double faults and five set points went begging, yet somehow she managed to close it out.

There was a scream of “c’mon, finally!” when the set was in the bag after 53 minutes.

Having pegged back the early break in the second set, Gauff reeled off six of the last seven games with the sole game she dropped coming on the back of two double faults when serving for the match.

Fortunately for her sake, she wouldn’t have to put her serve to the test again at the brink as she broke Konta to punch her ticket to the second round.

That will to win sometimes needs a help along

Gauff maintains her intensity with cries of “c’mon” – and plenty of them. If the 16-year-old is picking off seeds at will in the Slams this soon in her career we could be in for a lot of “c’mons”.

Fabrice Santoro was intrigued where the young American derived this steely focus in the post-match on-court interview.

Was it something that came naturally or something she had to work on?

“It’s a little bit of both,” Gauff grinned. “I always want to win so I try to stay competitive in the match … When it’s this cold I had to bounce around more than normal though.”

Age is just a number

Konta’s defeat left the Brits reeling following the departure too on Sunday of Andy Murray and Dan Evans.

While disappointed not have passed the second round at any of the three majors in 2020, Konta said she was not overawed facing an opponent so young.

“I'm playing against another professional who is doing very well and who is obviously playing very good tennis,” Konta said. “It doesn't really matter how old she is.

“I think the age and those things, I think that's a factor for you guys and for public interest and for sponsors and for things like that. But as a fellow competitor, that's got nothing to do with us competing out on court."

Gauff living what most can only dream of doing

The score-line may have been deceiving even factoring in the double faults at the brink.

Gauff admits nerves well and truly took hold before she began the match and it took a little pep talk from her dad, Corey, while warming up before she stepped on court.

“He was just telling me, like, ‘You're living your dream, so just enjoy and have fun’,” Gauff 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 realised it's just a tennis match. I'm doing some things that people wish they could do. Just go out there and enjoy it.”