Coco Gauff, Sebastian Korda to play for titles in first week of 2023
A pair of Americans will play for singles titles in the first week of the 2023 season after Coco Gauff and Sebastian Korda have reached the finals of the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand and the Adelaide International 1, respectively.
The two rising stars have had contrasting paths through to their respective finals. Gauff, the No. 1 seed a WTA event for the first time in her career in Auckland, has dropped just 20 games in eight sets at the WTA 250 event, which needed to move its Round 2 and quarterfinal matches indoors due to persistent wet weather to keep the event on schedule.
After wins against Tatjana Maria, Sofia Kenin and Zhu Lin, Gauff rolled past No.7 seed Danka Kovinic of Montenegro 6-0, 6-2 in Saturday's semifinals to reach her fourth career tour-level singles final, and first on hard courts in two-and-a-half years.
She'll face Spanish qualifier Rebeka Masarova for the title. The 23-year-old Swiss-born Masarova, like Gauff, is also a former junior world No. 1 and girls' singles Grand Slam champion.
"It means a lot; the last final was the French Open," Gauff said. "But on the WTA level, the last one was Parma [in 2021], so it's been a while.
"Any final is special, especially the first week of the year. I didn't expect this outcome coming into the tournament. I couldn't have asked for a better start to the season, regardless of the result tomorrow."
Meanwhile, the unseeded Korda has had several notable victories in Adelaide to reach his fifth career ATP singles final, all of which have come at ATP 250 level. He opened with a 7-6(3), 6-3 win over Andy Murray, then defeated two players ranked ahead of him—Roberto Baustista Agut and No. 6 seed Jannik Sinner—to reach the semifinals.
He moved through to the championship match when Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka retired from their semifinal with Korda ahead 7-6(5), 1-0 due to a right hip injury.
Should Korda want to win his second title, he'll have to go through an all-time great. Top seed Novak Djokovic awaits in the final. The two have never played, but the 22-year-old says he's relishing the challenge of matching wits against Djokovic for the first time.
"He is so good, if Plan A isn't working, he goes to Plan B, Plan C, Plan D," Korda said. "He has all these different tactics he can use against you. He reads his opponents probably the best that anyone can read.
"I think it takes a big game to beat him. I think I have that type of style. Just try to go into him and try to come out on top."
Whatever the result of the final, Korda will be one to watch at the year's first Grand Slam event, which beigns in just over a week. He's assured of being seeded for his second Australian Open main draw after world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz withdrew on Friday due to injury.
"You don't have to face a top speed in potentially the first round. It's really big," Korda, who reached the third round last year on his debut, said. "I've only been seeded one before, actually played Alcaraz in the third round. It's pretty cool to come back to my second Aussie Open and be seeded. A lot of positivities this week. I'm excited."
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