Tournament 7 Jan 2023

Gauff takes on Spanish first-timer in women’s singles final at ASB Classic

by Media
Gauff takes on Spanish first-timer in women’s singles final at ASB Classic

Top seed Coco Gauff booked her spot in her first WTA tournament final in 20 months with a 6-0 6-2 victory over Danka Kovinic in the semifinal at the ASB Classic in Auckland.

Gauff (USA) timed her victory to perfection with the 1h13min win over the player from Montenegro coming minutes before the dreaded rain fell, and brought a nearly 3hr delay to proceedings.

It gave way to a sunning evening at the ASB Tennis Arena, allowing Spain’s Rebeka Masarova to qualify for her first WTA final after victory over fellow qualifier Ysaline Bonaventure (Belgium) 6-3 6-3 to claim the other spot in tomorrow’s final.

Gauff brought her powerful and accurate serve to the battle, converting 73 percent first serves and 69 percent second serves, which set the platform. She defended well also with her all-court game – strong from the back but also venturing to the net which is a relatively uncommon sight in the women’s game this week.

Kovinic, who came into 2023 on the back of superb clay-court form including beaten finalist in Argentina and semifinalist in Chile and Parma, was over-powered by the American.

“It was a great match on my account – nothing to complain about,” said Gauff. “I am glad I got it in before the rain came. I have a good track record with rain coming from Florida. I knew we had about 20 minutes left, but I was trying to focus on the match and not the rain coming.”

While Gauff has risen to No. 7 ranked player in the world, this will be her first WTA hardcourt final in over three years and her first since Roland Garros.

“The win means a lot. It’s been a while. Any final is great, especially the first tournament of the year, which was not something I expected coming in. I couldn’t ask for a better start to the season regardless of the result tomorrow.

“I am going to approach it like any other match – accepting the result regardless of whether I win or lose – nothing is going to change.”

Masarova, the world No 130, was too strong for Bonaventure, in a manner that might suggest that her game could pose more of a challenge for Gauff than the mere differences in their respective world rankings might suggest.

“It is my first WTA final and I have been playing more of these in the last year,” said the former French Open junior champion.

“I have talked to my family at home as I have come over on my own. They are very happy, and so was my coach who couldn’t come with me this time.

“I will prepare as normal for the final. I know she is a great player and I want to play my best.”

In the final match Miyu Kato (Japan) and Aldila Sutjiaki (Indonesia) outlasted Viktoria Kuzmova (Slovakia) and Arantxa Rus (Netherlands) 4-6 6-4 10-8 in the super tiebreak.

They will advance to tomorrow’s doubles final when they take on Canada’s Leylah Fernandez and American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Meanwhile the ASB Classic men’s competition got underway with qualifying moved indoors after the rain.

There was good news for New Zealand Tennis, with leading player Ajeet Rai from Taranaki prevailing over Japan’s Taro Daniel 7-5 0-6 6-3. Rai arrived back in Auckland last night after playing in Noumea, earning his opportunity at the ASB Classic via a wildcard initiative with New Zealand Tennis and the ASB Classic. A win in the second round qualifying tomorrow would see Rai through to his first WTA main draw event.