INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Last summer, Coco Gauff was unbeatable on home soil. She picked up maiden titles at every level above WTA 250, capping off a scorching stretch by winning her first Grand Slam title.

On Saturday, Gauff returned to play her first match in the U.S. since the “Summer of Coco” wrapped with a US Open trophy in hand. Her latest BNP Paribas Open campaign at Indian Wells nearly became one to quickly file away, until Gauff escaped with a come-from-behind victory.

Playing the opening match on Stadium 1, Gauff channeled coach Brad Gilbert’s “Winning Ugly” mentality that she embraced during her 2023 run by surviving Clara Burel, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), coming back from 2-5 down in the final set.

“Happy with the mental fight," Gauff said afterwards. "It wasn’t my best tennis, but it’s not about how you show up on your good days, it’s how you show up on your bad ones. I’m happy with how I showed up today.”

Gauff would later add in her conversation with Tennis Channel’s Steve Weissman and Prakash Amritraj, “There’s aspects of my game that I would give an A and other aspects I would give an F. But that’s just part of having a tough day at the office.”

Gauff was a quarterfinalist at Indian Wells in 2023.

Gauff was a quarterfinalist at Indian Wells in 2023.


Initially shaking off an early break deficit, Gauff struggled to find a spark in losing six consecutive games. Her first serve percentage hovered under 50%, returns she normally makes didn’t find the court, and trips to the net were few and far between.

When Burel had opportunities, she took the ball early to keep the American on her back foot. The 22-year-old was willing to engage her speedy opponent in the cat and mouse game, consolidating her break in set two by outfoxing Gauff with a north to south exchange.

Burel once again lost her advantage from 2-1 up, though had a chance to regain it. In a turning point for Gauff, she ended a 21-shot rally with an inside-out forehand winner, the first of the set for either player.

The wheels then came off briefly for the Frenchwoman. After Gauff beautifully worked a point to close with a winning forehand drop volley, Burel double faulted to fall behind 2-4. Two looks at break point in the following game were spoiled by tight forehand returns–and Gauff would eventually level by coming through a tough hold.


But like in the first two sets, it was Burel whose groundstrokes held up. Getting herself entangled in a moonball exchange, Gauff eventually pushed a forehand long to hand over the break. On two key points in the third game, her usually reliable backhand faltered. Burel later saved three break points to reach 3-0 and distanced herself with a double break as Gauff’s forehand woes escalated.

It was Burel, though, who blinked when she was put to the ultimate test: She was broken at love serving for the match, losing eight straight points at one stage. With the Frenchwoman's lead all but evaporated, the crowd quickly and vocally encouraged their own to line up the decisive tiebreak.

Gauff secured an immediate mini break by rushing forward to close a forehand volley, and while it was wiped away by a deep forehand return from Burel, the Delray Beach, Fla. resident leaned into her experience to stay in front. On her third match point, Gauff’s defensive flair resulted in Burel striking a crosscourt backhand wide to end it.

“Definitely the serve that I really can improve, making more serves. Honestly the return was really great today. I think it kept me in the match,” Gauff closed in her Tennis Channel interview. “And also moving forward was one of the strong keys today. Just continuing to be aggressive and maybe focusing more on depth, getting the ball deeper into the court.”

With her victory, Gauff celebrated her 50th win at the WTA 1000 level—the most ever recorded by a teenager. She's now won her past 17 matches contested on home soil.