Auckland | Gauff successfully defends title with 3-set win over Svitolina

Top-seeded Coco Gauff successfully defended her ASB Classic women’s title in Auckland when she overcame a strong challenge from Elina Svitolina, the 2nd seed, on Sunday.

I’d like to congratulate Elina and your team. What you do, being a mom, coming back so fast at such a high level is inspiring. Hopefully, not anytime soon, I’ll be able to do it like you did. I’m very excited to see players are coming back. I’ve said it a few years ago already. I think that we broke the stereotype that you can’t play tennis or be an athlete and have family. This definitely has been broken and it’s actually evolving more and more. Coco Gauff

It was a brave come-back after losing the first set in the breaker, but the 19-year American rallied to push through, 6-7 6-3 6-3, to defend a title for the first time in her career.

It took her 2 hours and 35 minutes of high quality tennis to get past Svitolina, and win her 7th title.

Both produced scintillating tennis befitting of a Grand Slam final, let alone a WTA 250 tournament, thrilling the crowd with their prowess.

Under the WTA’s new rules, Top 10 players are now only allowed to enter a tournament at the Classic’s level if they are the defending champion, and Gauff is the World No 3 so unlikely to drop down in 2024, while Svitolina seems likely to rise, It would seem that neither will be back in Auckland next year.

Gauff shook off the loss of a topsy-turvy first set before notching up her 7th career Hologic WTA Tour singles title and winning 10 straight matches at the ASB Classic after yet another victory on the hard courts of Auckland, New Zealand.

The American becomes the 4th player to win back-to-back titles in Auckland, joining Patty Fendick in 1988 and 1989, Eleni Daniilidou in 2003 and 2004, and Julia Goerges in 2018 and 2019.


Elina Svitolina took the first set against Coco Gauff in the Auckland final but fell in three

© Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Svitolina, last season’s WTA Comeback Player of the Year, is a former World No 3, who came back from maternity leave just 9 months ago and is already back in the Top 25, with a 17-4 career win-loss record in finals.

Her run in Auckland had been an arduous one, culminating in a 2 hour and 23 minutes to overcome Wang Xiyu in the semi-final on Saturday, but she seemed fresh enough when the final got underway at 5pm local time.

In the first set, Gauff broke Svitolina’s serve twice, but each time she failed to consolidate, hampered by her  5 double-faults in opener.

Gauff had lost her only previous meeting with Svitolina at the 2021 Australian Open, but the American broke for a 5-3 first-set lead with a forehand passing winner.

The Ukrainian erased 2 set points in the next game, then hit a passing winner of her own to extend the opener ahead of cruising out to a 6-2 lead in the first-set tiebreak.

She needed 3 set points to land the opener but, ultimately, snapped Gauff’s 18-set winning streak in Auckland.


Coco Gauff prevailed over Elina Svitolina after a thrilling 2 hour 35 minute final

© Phil Walter/Getty Images

Gauff rebounded and started to take charge in the second, getting a break in the first game and she extended that lead in the 7th game with another break, but, for a third time in the match, she dropped her serve, again with an inopportune double-fault occurring on the last point of the game.

Svitolina, though, failed to hold her serve again, as the contest moved into a third set, in which both raised their games.

It wasn’t until the 8th game that there was finally a break when, at 4-3, Gauff earned a break point with a backhand winner, and Svitolina fired long on her forehand to drop her’s, giving the young American a chance to serve for the championship.

The American won the first two points before badly missing a low backhand with an empty court in front of her, followed by the next two points, but, attempting to break back, Svitolina missed another forehand winner, and her chance evaporated.

After staring down that one last break point, Gauff held on to hoist the trophy, finishing with 32 winners to Svitolina’s 21, while the American went 6-for-13 on break points.

“I’d like to congratulate Elina and your team,” Gauff said on court. “What you do, being a mom, coming back so fast at such a high level is inspiring. Hopefully, not anytime soon, I’ll be able to do it like you did.

“I’m very excited to see players are coming back. I’ve said it a few years ago already.

“I think that we broke the stereotype that you can’t play tennis or be an athlete and have family. This definitely has been broken and it’s actually evolving more and more.”


Viktoria Hruncakova of Slovakia & Anna Danilina of Kazakhstan celebrate after winning the Women's doubles final against Marie Bouzkova of Czech Republic & Bethanie Mattek-Sands of USA at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand

© Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Later on Sunday, No 2 seeds Anna Danilina & Viktoria Hruncakova squeaked past top seeds Marie Bouzkova & Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-3 6-7(5) [10-8], in an hour and 45 minutes to win the ASB Classic doubles title.

It is the 5th career WTA doubles title each for Danilina & Hruncakova, but their first as a team.



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