in the game as in the attitude, the lesson of maturity of Cori Gauff

Coco Gauff during her match against Russian Mirra Andreeva at Roland-Garros, June 3, 2023.

At the age of 19, “Coco” Gauff almost looked like a dean on Saturday June 3 on the Suzanne-Lenglen court, compared to her third-round opponent, Mirra Andreeva, three years her junior. The American was already playing her fifth Roland-Garros when the Russian, out of qualifying, made her first appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament. At 16, the 143e worldwide – another 312e less than two months ago – even had its baptism on a big court, relegated so far to the annexes.

The “shock of youth” lasted only one set: the sixth player in the world showed the gap that still separates the two players, sending the new nugget of the women’s circuit back to her dear studies, defeated in three sets (6- 7, 6-1, 6-1). But the lesson of maturity given by the American was not only sporting, it was also the attitude. Throughout the match, the serenity displayed by Gauff, including when she gave up the first set, contrasted with the ostensible nervousness of Andreeva, who came very close to being sent back to the locker room earlier.

On a second set point missed in the decisive game, the Russian sent a ball of rage in the front rows of the Lenglen public. A gesture that could have – should? – cost him an elimination, but the chair umpire was lenient with the teenager, who got off with a warning, before snatching the set. She did not receive a second when she threw her racquet to the ground at the start of the second set, in a new fit of frustration.

“With great power comes great responsibility”

Since her arrival in Paris, the prodigy who has been training in France since the beginning of 2022 in the academy of Jean-René Lisnard (former 84e world), in Cannes, had so far shown disarming maturity: five matches (including three in qualifying) without dropping a single set. By her own admission, the Frenchwoman Diane Parry had been “walking on it the whole game”, in her second round against the junior world number one on Thursday (6-1, 6-2). “Everything is mature about her, her mentality, her behavior, her game, it’s extremely solid”, then said the 20-year-old right-hander on the one-handed backhand.

On Saturday, the Russian finally showed all the way she still has to go to be as exemplary as Cori Gauff, a model in this field. After her first-round victory on May 30 against Spain’s Rebeka Masarova, the American cited Spiderman as her favorite hero.

“His motto is: ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ What are your powers and responsibilities? », asked a reporter after his second round. ” For the powers, on the ground, I would say my mentality, it is something that I have had since very young”, she answered. “For the responsibilities… To do my best on the court? Outside, I am quite aware of my place in sport and the media and I don’t take it for granted. And it is because I consider my privileged position that I feel the responsibility to make my voice heard on all these causes.completed the young woman, who was particularly involved against racism and police violence after the death of George Floyd.

Unhappy finalist last year against the Polish Iga Swiatek, Cori Gauff has long brooded over this match where she never existed (6-1, 6-3). “For a week or two, I told myself that I couldn’t have done worse, she poured out on Tuesday. I am the first to criticize myself. I had to learn to talk about myself in a more positive way and I continue to work on that today. Now I force myself to stop beating myself up every time I lose. »

Read also: At Roland-Garros, Iga Swiatek extends his reign

Patrick Mouratoglou and his two foals

On Saturday, against Andreeva, she delivered a master class in the matter, without ever panicking the three times she conceded her face-off at the start of the match, even serving at 5-4 to win the first set, which her younger sister tore on the wire in the tie-break. Each time she got out of a delicate situation, the American clenched her fist with blows of ” come on ” furious when her opponent seemed to throw in the towel as soon as Gauff broke her at the start of the second set. The eldest was enterprising until the end, raising her level of play as the match progressed.


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In her box, Patrick Mouratoglou, who advises her during this fortnight, no doubt said to himself that her presence in the box was not unrelated to the reversal of the brand. The former mentor of Serena Williams rushed from the Philippe-Chatrier court as soon as the match of his second foal, the Dane Holger Rune, finished – qualified for the eighth after his victory against the Argentinian Genaro Alberto Olivieri (6-4, 6- 1, 6-3).

Asked at a press conference about her opponent’s guilty gesture towards the public, Gauff did not fire red balls at Andreeva: “Naturally you’re not supposed to swing a ball in the direction of the crowd, but you might not remember, I broke a racket on the court here in my quarter-final loss in 2021. I I’m not going to blame her for her age, tennis is a frustrating sport, it’s just the act of an athlete feeling frustrated, it happens. » At Gauff, youth does not preclude wisdom.


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