Tournament 6 Jan 2023

Coco emerges as seeds depart ahead of semifinals

by Media
Coco emerges as seeds depart ahead of semifinals

Top seed Coco Gauff emerged as the clear favourite after a quarterfinals day of drama and heartache at the ASB Classic in Auckland.

The 18-year-old Gauff, the No 7 ranked player in the world, was all-class in taking out China’s Zhu Lin 6-3 6-2 in her quarterfinal.

“It was a really great match for me, each match I’m improving and that’s what I love to see,” Gauff said.

Gauff was always in control and is looking forward to her first semifinal in nine months.

“I’m super-happy, this is my first semi in a while and I’m happy to be here,” she said.

“It’s not the ideal conditions to play in, no fans and I’m sad they can’t see the matches. But at the end of the day, it’s tennis and I’m glad to be on the court.”

The American will play seventh-seed Danka Kovinic from Montenegro in the semifinal after she beat Viktoria Kuzmova 6-3 6-2 in an equally dominant quarterfinal performance.

There was a major surprise in the bottom half of the draw where the impressive US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez (CAN), who had dropped just three games until today, succumbed to Belgian Ysaline Bonaventure 6-4 6-2 who made her first-ever WTA semifinal.

“I always enjoy coming back to Auckland and I couldn’t enjoy a better start to the year. The pre-season has been very tough,” said Bonaventure.

She had broken into the all-important top-100 late in 2022 which had been a goal since she was a child and finally achieved it late in 2022. But it has been challenging to cope with the additional pressure, with a poor result in Auckland meaning she would drop out of the top-100 which brings with it important qualifying opportunities.

“I can’t explain why I have been playing so good this week.”

With weather forcing the game indoors, it suited the Belgian who trains indoors and enjoys the faster surface.

“It helped. I have shown some great tennis this week and my serve has helped me a lot. My confidence has grown match after match which is great.”

She takes on Spain’s Rebeka Masarova in the battle of two unseeded players chasing their first WTA final.

Masarova, a former junior French Open champion, prevailed in a late-night match, moved indoors, with a 7-6 7-6 win over the sturdy Karolina Muchova (CZE).

There was one semifinal played in the doubles where Fernandez booked her place in the finals with partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) after a comeback effort over Latisha Chan (TPE) and Alexa Guarachi (CHI) 2-6 6-3 10-5 in the super tiebreak.

There opponents will be decided tomorrow after the women’s semifinals.

Play is slated to begin at 3pm on the Stadium court, with fingers crossed finally for a clear day to play outdoors.

Meanwhile the men’s competition gets underway with a 16-field singles qualifying.