PARIS -- Mirra Andreeva's Grand Slam debut came to an end in the third round at Roland Garros. After navigating through qualifying, the 16-year-old bowed out in three sets to last year's finalist and No.6 seed Coco Gauff on Saturday.
In the much-anticipated match between the two youngest players in the draw, the 19-year-old American came back from a set down to win 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-1 to return to the Round of 16.
"In the beginning, I was just playing," Andreeva told reporters after the match. "I didn't expect like to win or to lose. I was just playing how the game goes.
"After the first set I won, I realized that I can really win this match. Then I got a little bit nervous not to lose this opportunity.
"So I think that was a mistake from me. I should have just continued playing, and that's it."
It's a lesson Andreeva will take with her as she continues to chart her path on the Hologic WTA Tour. Last month, she made her tour debut at the Mutua Madrid Open, where she proceeded to defeat Leylah Fernandez, Beatriz Haddad Maia and Magda Linette to make the Round of 16. There, she was overpowered by World No.2 and eventual champion Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets.
If there's one player on tour who can understand Andreeva's bottle-rocket rise through the tennis landscape, it's Gauff. The American made her splash in 2019 at Wimbledon, where she navigated qualifying as a 15-year-old to make her Slam debut and advance to the Round of 16.
"When I'm on the court, we're not thinking about our age," Gauff said. "I don't think she was thinking, 'Oh, I'm only 16 and she's 19, she's older.' If she was thinking that she wouldn't win a match because she beat people older than me. And at my age, I wasn't thinking about that, I was just thinking about playing the ball.
"Age is important to mention sometimes but as a player and going through it, yes, it gets a little bit annoying. Because I feel like I'm the type of person, I don't need to be praised because of my age or anything. I prefer just to be praised because of my game, not because of things I'm doing at whatever age."
Asked to relay any advice to Andreeva, Gauff emphasized the need for a strong support team. She credited her parents, management team and sponsors for never putting pressure on her to produce results and letting her develop at her own pace.
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"I guess the advice to her; just to do it for you." Gauff said. "I mean, don't do it for anyone else. When you step on the court you want to make sure it's for you, and I think life and the game will be a lot more enjoyable that way."
Despite the loss in Paris, Andreeva is still a sparkling 22-3 across on the ITF and WTA Tour this season. Two of her three losses have come to Top 10 opposition.
Still limited on WTA tournaments because of age-eligibility rules, Andreeva is hoping to make her grass-court debut at Wimbledon next.
"I don't have a favorite surface, because when I play on hard I miss clay, but when I play on clay I miss hard," Andreeva said. "So I cannot say which surface is my favorite.
"I didn't play on grass yet. It will be my first time. It can be my first time. I'm excited about it, because I have never tried it. So if I can go there, we will see what I can do."