Auckland | It’s a Gauff v Svitolina final

Coco Gauff, the defending champion, and Elina Svitolina, the 2nd seed, reached the final of the ASB Classic in Auckland on Saturday with wins over Emma Navarro and Wang Xiyu respectively.

I had really tough matches in the first three rounds. Finishing yesterday last night, going to bed at 2 am, it was not easy, but I tried to push myself. I played like there’s no tomorrow. I just tried to fight and give everything for this win today. Elina Svitolina

While Gauff cruised past her American compatriot, 6-3 6-1, Svitolina needed 2 hours and 23 minutes to her mount come-back and overcome her Chinese challenger, 2-6 6-4 6-1.

Gauff has barely been troubled in her Auckland Open title defence, which continued when the US Open champion brushed aside Navarro in just 62 minutes.

“Definitely a good start to my 2024, Emma’s an incredible player,” said Gauff, the World No 3. “[I was] aggressive in my serve and return.

“We played a practice set here before the tournament started, and she was playing really well, so I knew I had to be at my best if I wanted to win.”

Gauff made a commanding start and held for a 4-2 lead in the opening set when rain, which has fallen regularly throughout the tournament, briefly stopped play.

The 19-year-old American continued her strong showing, extending her lead on the players’ return to the court, and eventually won the first set with few concerns.

Gauff tightened her grip when she broke her compatriot’s serve in the opening game of the second, and consolidated her lead further after a Navarro miss-hit in the 5th game that gave the dominant teenager an unassailable lead.

In fact, Gauff lost just 2 points on her first serve as she quashed the 22-year old, who is ranked 31 and had ridden momentum of her own, entering the semi-final having won her last 6 sets.

Gauff struck 10 aces, dropped just 2 of 30 first-serve points, and saved the only 2 break chances Navarro earned, stopping her compatriot in her tracks.

“Emma is an incredible player, we’ve played each other when I was like 12 years old,” Gauff said. “Being aggressive, and really my serve and return… I knew I had to be at my best game if I wanted to win.”

Gauff has won all 8 sets she has played in Auckland, and none of them have stretched beyond 6-4.

2nd-seeded Elina Svitolina needed medical help in her semi-final against Wang Xiyu but prevailed in 3 sets to reach the final

© Phil Walter/Getty Images

Her next opponent could provide more resistance as it is the experienced Svitolina, who beat Wang in her 45th WTA Tour-level semi-final.

In the first set of her semi-final, Wang’s inexperience barely showed, and she was the better player throughout, troubling the Ukrainian when returning and breaking 3 out of her 4 service games in the opener.

As a result, the Chinese player took the first set, and created a break point chance in the first game of the second, but, Svitolina, renowned for her resilient grit, stepped up, improving on her delivery, and now not giving away any break points.

When she carved out her only opportunity in the 10th game in the second set, she used it to level and, after that, the decider proved an easy ride for the Ukrainian.

Two breaks on she was leading 5-1, and, despite losing one of the breaks, she had no trouble winning the match to reach the 2024 ASB Classic final.

In the final, Svitolina takes on Gauff in a clash of the two top seeds at the tournament, and it will be a real test for the young American, because although the Ukrainian has only won 21 out of her 45 semi-final outings, she has won 17 out of her 20 final appearances.

“It was really difficult today for me,” Svitolina said later. “I had really tough matches in the first three rounds.

“Finishing yesterday last night, going to bed at 2 am, it was not easy, but I tried to push myself. I played like there’s no tomorrow. I just tried to fight and give everything for this win today.”

Elina Svitolina came from a set down to defeat Wang Xiyu in Auckland, New Zealand.

© Phil Walter/Getty Images

Gauff has now won her last 9 matches in Auckland, and bids to become the 9th player in tournament history to win multiple Auckland titles, and the first since Julia Goerges in 2018-19.

She would be the 3rd since 2000, as Greece’s Eleni Daniilidou also won back-to-back titles in 2003-04.

This year, Gauff has won all her 4 matches in straight sets so far, and dropped just 15 games in this week.

Gauff, who hit 26 winners in 16 games to Navarro’s 6, 10 of which were aces, and has won 28 of her last 32 singles matches.

She now faces Svitolina, whose remarkable week continues, having fought off Caroline Wozniacki, Emma Raducanu, and 4th-seeded Marie Bouzkova.

The Ukrainian then engineered a vintage come-back to defeat Wang to advance to her first final since winning Strasbourg last spring.

Svitolina, though, needed two off-court medical timeouts in the match to address physical issues but the former World No 3 still held off Wang for the win.

Also, she won her only prior meeting with Gauff, which came at the 2021 Australian Open, winning 6-4 6-3.

This will be the first Auckland final between the top two seeds since 2018, with all to play for.



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