2022 finalist Coco Gauff dropped the first set of her return to Roland Garros on Tuesday, but rallied for a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 win over Spain's Rebeka Masarova on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.
Gauff had beaten Masarova 6-1, 6-1 in the final of the ASB Classic in January, but the first clay-court meeting between two former Roland Garros junior champions proved more complicated. World No.71 Masarova, winner of the 2016 girls' title in Paris, started strongly to win the match's first three games, and saved all eight break points she faced in the first set, before Gauff worked her way back into the match.
From 1-1 in the second set, Gauff won seven straight games, finally breaking serve for a 3-1 lead in the middle set. The No.6 seed ended up breaking Masarova's serve five times on eight chances in the second and third sets to complete the comeback in 1 hour and 46 minutes.
Words from the winner: After the match, Gauff credited the confidence of returning to the site of her greatest career achievement to date with sparking her mentally to push through to a comeback.
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"It was a tough start. Rebeka played a great match, but I'm happy with how I was able to turn it around," Gauff said afterwards.
"The final ... it's in the past. I had a bad game in the first set and a couple of break chances, so I knew I was going to be able to turn it around. I just had to be aggressive on those moments.
"I felt like there were certain aspects of my game that I wasn't playing my best on, but I know I'm confident on the surface and in these conditions, and I think that's what I relied on today."
Another rematch up next: Up next for Gauff is Austria's Julia Grabher, in a rematch from last month's Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier. Rabat runner-up Grabher was a 6-2, 6-3 winner over Arantxa Rus, her first win (and even set won) over Rus in four career meetings.
Gauff was a 6-1, 6-3 winner on the hard courts of Delray Beach, Fla. to help the U.S. reach November's Billie Jean King Cup Finals.
"When I played her in BJK Cup I had a good match," Gauff said. "Her style of game is quite obvious. It's better on clay than hard, so the next match will be tough. I'm going to have to play a lot of balls, obviously.
I think she has a great forehand, so I'm going to have to deal with that. ... I saw her match against Kasatkina in Rome [a 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(2) win for Kasatkina], so I'm going to expect to play a lot of balls."