Coco Gauff rallies for gutsy win in Indian Wells

It’s hard to beat a champion.

Coco Gauff, the reigning U.S. Open champion, was on the ropes all morning long, but she showed a winner’s grit and rallied in the third set for a 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Clara Burel of France in a second-round match at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on Saturday.

Gauff trailed 4-0 and 5-2 in the third set, but finally found the game that had been eluding her. She won three straight games to tie it at 5-5. Both players held serve to force a tiebreaker and Gauff took over, jumping to a 6-2 lead in the tiebreaker and eventually winning it 7-4 when a Burel forehand went long. Gauff let out a roar and pumped a clenched fist after the final point, knowing she had survived a battle.

Having a tough opening-round match isn’t always a harbinger of how a player will do moving forward. Gauff, in fact, said in her experience, it’s often the opposite.

Coco Gauff hits a forehand during her win over Clara Burel during the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., March 9, 2024.

“Honestly in the past, yeah. I mean, the last tournaments I have done well in, usually I have a tough opening first round, especially with the biggest one was the U.S. Open,” Gauff said. “I think for me 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. Am I proud of how I played? Not really, to be honest. But the fight, I am proud of.”

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