Coco Gauff’s French Open loss reminder that greatness will take time

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The most important thing to be reminded of, as Coco Gauff improbably lost the first set of her French Open quarterfinal, then lost her composure, then lost all chance is that at just 17 years old, she has already done enough to view what happened Wednesday as a disappointment. 

That’s pretty remarkable, isn’t it? 

Up until this French Open, it’s been all promise and upside for Gauff, a theoretical future in which her considerable talent would one day be refined enough to win Grand Slams. It wasn’t going to be at 15, when she pulled a first-round surprise against Venus Williams at Wimbledon and first landed on the radar of American sports fans. It wasn’t going to be at 16, when Gauff went through a minor sophomore slump as she became a full-time player on the pro tour. 

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And until very recently, it didn’t seem at all realistic to expect anything different at 17 because the trajectory she was on seemed slow and steady and still too far away from the top of the sport to think about too much. 

But for the first time in her career Wednesday, Gauff arrived at a big match not as a fascinating and fun story but as a real threat. She felt what it was like to have something to lose. And perhaps, after a 7-6, 6-3 defeat to Barbora Krejčíková of the Czech Republic, she has a realistic view of both how close and how far she is to winning Grand Slam titles. 



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