American teenager Coco Gauff had a winning debut at the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday with a 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-1 win over former Top 10 player Caroline Garcia.
In her first match in over a month, since losing to compatriot Sloane Stephens in the second round of the US Open, the 17-year-old secured a 2-hour and 10-minute victory to reach the third round.
Pushed to deuce on serve in the first game of the match, Gauff surrendered just five points in her ensuing service games in the opener, and never relinquished her lead after breaking serve to move ahead 3-1.
From 4-1 and 5-3 down in the second set, Gauff managed to rally for a tiebreak. Garcia claimed the breaker, but Gauff ultimately cruised through the decider in her first-ever meeting against the Frenchwoman.
Stats of the match: An aggressive performance from Gauff was what helped her secure victory. The American racked up a staggering 40 winners, evenly balancing out her 40 unforced errors, while Garcia only totaled 19 winners to her own 40 unforced errors.
In addition, Gauff served up 12 aces and went 5-for-14 on her break point chances, while Garcia went 2-for-4.
Crowd makes a difference for the home favorite: Playing in front of supportive fans in the California desert for the first time, Gauff credited her fellow Americans for pulling her through victory.
"It's really special to come out here to a crowd so welcoming," she said on-court after the match. "Honestly, I just kept telling myself to keep going for my shots. Even in the second set, I had a lot of opportunities... and I just told myself to keep going for my shots and it ended up working out.
"Playing matches with nerves, it's not easy to put on a face. I know it seems like I'm calm sometimes, but I'm really freaking out. I try to not let you guys see, or most importantly, let my opponent see, and I think that got me through. I always say the crowd makes a difference in a match... and I'm happy this crowd loves me. It's my first time playing in front of you guys... and I like you back."
Up next: Gauff has another first-ever meeting on the cards in Round 3, as she faces No.21 seed Paula Badosa, who overcame Dayana Yastremska in three sets, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
French Open champion Krejcikova sets third round meeting with Anisimova
Also making her BNP Paribas Open debut, No.3 seed and French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova needed three sets to edge Kazakh qualifier Zarina Diyas, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. The pair were meeting for the second time in the span of four months, as Krejcikova earned a victory via retirement in the second round of the Tokyo Olympics in July.
In similar fashion to Gauff, Krejcikova cruised in the final set after splitting the first two with Diyas: the World No.5 bounced back emphatically after losing five straight games from 3-1 up in the second set.
The reigning Roland Garros winner will next face a player who's had her own deep run in Paris: 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova, who upset No. 30 seed and Montreal champion Camila Giorgi to reach the third round, 6-4, 6-1.
A trio of seeded players also booked Round 3 spots by virtue of retirement victories. One game away from the finish, No.18 seed Anett Kontaveit advanced past Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan, who won the second-longest match of 2021 over Marie Bouzkova on Friday, 6-3, 5-2, when Trevisan succumbed to a leg injury; No.22 seed Danielle Collins led compatriot Lauren Davis, 6-1, before Davis retired with dizziness; and No.23 seed Daria Kasatkina trailed qualifier Astra Sharma by a break, 4-3, before the Aussie retired with a shoulder injury.