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Coco Gauff, in her first match as a grand slam champion, advances at the China Open

<i>VCG/Getty Images</i><br/>Gauff plays a return against Ekaterina Alexandrova at the China Open in Beijing.
VCG/Getty Images
Gauff plays a return against Ekaterina Alexandrova at the China Open in Beijing.

By George Ramsay, CNN

(CNN) — Coco Gauff kicked off her career as a grand slam champion with a straight-sets victory against Ekaterina Alexandrova at the China Open.

Playing her first match since winning the US Open last month, Gauff overcame Russia’s Alexandrova 7-5 6-3 in Beijing on Monday, though she later admitted that she wasn’t at her “best level.”

The 19-year-old American raced into a 4-0 lead before Alexandrova responded with two breaks of serve to level the first set. Gauff, however, held her nerve and took the opening set with a superb backhand winner.

The second set was more straightforward for Gauff as she held her serve throughout, getting the crucial break with a crosscourt forehand at 3-2.

She wrapped up the contest – her 13th win in a row – in an hour and 22 minutes when Alexandrova slammed a forehand into the net.

Gauff, who rose to No. 3 in the rankings after defeating Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka in the US Open final three weeks ago, will now face Croatia’s Petra Martić in the second round.

“Overall I’m happy with how I was able to push through,” said Gauff, who lost against Alexandrova in Berlin in June.

“Is it how I like to play? Probably not. But I knew coming in was going to be tough, just coming from across the world. This is the first time here. I knew it was going to be a tough match for me regardless.”

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