Coco Gauff rolls to third career WTA singles title in Auckland
Playing as the No. 1 seed at a WTA event for the first time, American teenager Coco Gauff started her 2023 season in the best possible way: The 18-year-old cruised to her third career WTA singles title at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.
Gauff dropped just 22 games in 10 sets at the WTA 250 event, never losing more than four games in a single set. She beat last year's Wimbledon semifinalist Tatjana Maria and 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin en route, and eased to a 6-1, 6-1 win over Spanish qualifier Rebeka Masarova in Sunday's final.
It's Gauff's second title on hard courts, and first on the surface since she triumphed at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz in October of 2019.
Gauff's toughest challenge of the week came from Mother Nature. The ASB Classic was plagued by rain throughout the week, and Gauff played both her second round and quarterfinal matches indoors to keep the event on schedule.
"Honestly, a great week for me despite the rain," Gauff said in victory. "Couldn't ask for a better start to my season. First title on hard since I was 15. I'm happy to be successful on a surface that I love."
Road to the Championship - Coco Gauff
R1: def. Tatjana Maria (GER) - 6-4, 6-1
R2: def. (WC) Sofia Kenin (USA) - 6-4, 6-4
QF: def. Zhu Lin (CHN) - 6-3, 6-2
SF: def. (7) Danka Kovinic (MNE) 6-0, 6-2
F: def (Q) Rebeka Masarova (ESP) - 6-1, 6-1
Masarova, a 23-year-old Swiss-born Spaniard and a former junior Grand Slam champion, defeated No. 2 seed Sloane Stephens and former Top 20 player Karolina Muchova en route to her first tour-level singles final. But the world No. 130 couldn't find a solution for Gauff in 75 minutes, as she failed to convert any of the 10 break points she held in the match.
After rain against reared its ugly head once more and delayed the start to the final, Gauff broke immediately at the onset and built a 5-1 lead before sprinkles returned at set point, with Gauff serving. Seven of the 10 break points Gauff faced in the match came in the second set; she turned aside two serving at 2-1, and five more at 4-1, before she broke Masarova for a fifth time to wrap up victory.
Gauff now heads to Melbourne for the Australian Open in enviable form, and looks to better her all-time best result: a fourth-round showing from 2020, where she lost to eventual champion Kenin.
"It gives me a lot of confidence, honestly," Gauff said. "You never know how your first week is gonna go. [It] could be good or terrible, but I think it's been a great week for both of us."
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