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Jimmy Butler, Heat influenced Coco Gauff’s opening-round win at French Open

Coco Gauff pulled inspiration from one of her favorite local athletes in what looked like would be a bleak start to the French Open.

The South Florida native and Heat fan envisioned Jimmy Butler as she lost the first set of her first-round match of the French Open on Tuesday against Spain’s Rebeka Masarova 3-6.

The Miami star recently had to battle for an 2023 NBA Finals appearance against the Celtics, as they held a 3-0 series lead before Boston clawed their way back to even the series 3-3.

Nevertheless, the Heat found their footing again in Game 7, cruising to a 103-84 win to go to the finals for the second time in four seasons.

Similarly to Butler and the Heat, Gauff didn’t let adversity dictate the rest of the match. She fiercely rebounded in the next two sets, winning 3–6, 6–1, 6–2 against the unseeded Masarova to advance to the second round.

Coco Gauff celebrates after winning her first round match against Spain's Rebeka Masarova.
Jimmy Butler is awarded the Larry Bird Trophy after winning round 3 game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
NBAE via Getty Images

“Honestly, today I told myself if Jimmy Butler didn’t freak out when they were up 3–0 and then all of a sudden it was 3-all, then I shouldn’t freak out from losing the first set,” Gauff said to Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim.

“I think I was just confident in my game. Like I said earlier, there is three sets in the match and I knew that first set was in the past. Even when I got broken, I was like there’s a lot of match left.”

The 19-year-old, the sixth seed in the French Open, has cemented her name within the top talent of the sport, especially after her notable upset of Venus Williams at Wimbledon in 2019 at 15 years old.

Coco Gauff rallied after losing the first set to move on to the second round of the French Open.

Gauff will play on Wednesday in a doubles match alongside American player Jessica Pegula.

She resumes singles play on Thursday against Austria’s Julia Grabher the same day the Heat will face the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

“Heat in seven and maybe Coco in seven,” Gauff added with a laugh.