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Prepping in the relative warmth of a gym Sunday before heading out with leggings and long sleeves to make her French Open debut against the tournament’s No. 9 seed, Coco Gauff got a pep talk from Dad.

“His goal was to become an NBA player, and he didn’t make it. He told me: ‘You’re living your dream. Not everybody gets to do that. Just have fun on the court.’ That really changed my perspective,” Gauff, 16, recounted. “I was really nervous going into the match. That just calmed me down. I realized it’s just a tennis match. I’m doing some things that people wish they could do.”

On a rather unusual start to things at Roland Garros in Paris, with Day 1 of the French Open arriving in September instead of May and with only 1,000 spectators allowed instead of more than 30,000 as coronavirus cases rise in France, Gauff offered the latest proof that she can do most of what she wishes to on a tennis court.

Using forehand slices to throw off her older, more experienced opponent, and unbothered by her own 12 double-faults, Gauff stayed steady at the most crucial moments to beat Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-3 and reach the second round. It was Gauff’s fourth victory over an opponent ranked in the Top 20.

Gauff and Konta were not among the lucky few who got to play in the main stadium, Court Philippe Chatrier, which now boasts a $55 million retractable roof.

“It was much better, because we could play,” said top-seeded Simona Halep, who stretched her winning streak to 15 matches by defeating Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-4, 6-0, “and the rain didn’t stop us at all.”

Over at Lenglen, U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka did not hide her displeasure when she was told to remain on court instead of seeking shelter in the locker room while play was delayed because of a drizzle.

“I am going to get frozen,”…

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By Richard Moran

Richard Moran loves to write about sports with the Golden State Online. Before that, he worked as a senior writer at ESPN. Richard grew up in San Diego and graduated from the University of San Diego in 2004, after which he worked as an editor for five years.

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