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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday January 17, 2022

Coco Gauff has proven to be a fast learner on the Grand Slam stage. The American made her entrance in 2019 as a fifteen-year-old, and stormed onto the scene by reaching the second week on her Wimbledon debut. But even fast learners can stumble, and the American did just that on Monday as she dropped a first-round encounter at the majors for the second time in ten appearances.

Tennis Express

Gauff fell to China’s Wang Qiang, 6-4, 6-2, and the No.18 seed later told reporters that she never quite felt right on court.

“I think today I came into the match and the first couple of games, even though they were close, I was making more errors than I was used to,” said Gauff after a performance that featured 15 winners and 38 unforced errors.

It was a big win for Wang, who reached the round of 16 at the Australian Open in 2020, and the quarterfinals at the US Open in 2019. The 30-year-old Chinese had not won a match on tour since the Olympic Games in Tokyo last summer. The Chinese star entered the match with an 0-2 record against Gauff.

The American says she wasn't surprised by the strong game of the World No.113 on Monday.

"I wasn't surprised," she said. "I played her twice before, so I knew that she's capable of playing great tennis. For me, ranking is just a number."

Gauff played at Adelaide last week, reaching the semifinals, and said that playing the week before a major was a change of pace for her – and something she might not want to do again.

No matter the reason for her erratic tennis, Gauff says there is a lot she can learn from the tough loss, once she puts aside the disappointment.

“I think just everything disappointed me about today,” she said. “I feel like in the preseason, like I worked really hard, and I felt like I was ready to have a good run here. Today I just didn't perform well.

“And I think learning-wise, I think there's a lot to learn from. I think I didn't play as free as I normally do today. I think I was playing a little bit tighter than normal. So I think next time coming into the first round of a slam, especially after a tough week before, I think I need to just play more free and focus on the moment.”