Coco Gauff to face Elina Svitolina in Auckland Classic final

January 7, 2024 3:41 pm

[Source: BBC]

Coco Gauff continued her impressive form in the build-up to the Australian Open by reaching the final of the Auckland Classic.

US Open champion Gauff, 19, beat fellow American Emma Navarro 6-3 6-1 in the semi-finals.

The world number three, who is defending the Auckland title she won in 2023, will face Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina in Sunday’s final.

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The Australian Open starts in Melbourne on 14 January.

Svitolina needed two medical timeouts in her 2-6 6-4 6-3 victory against the unseeded Wang Xiyu.

Gauff has not dropped a set throughout the tournament in New Zealand and her form suggests she is on course to improve her Australian Open record, in which she has never made it past the fourth round.

“I was just being aggressive, with my serve and my return,” said Gauff.

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

“It’s definitely a good start to my 2024. Emma is an incredible player.”

Elsewhere, Briton Harriet Dart lost the biggest final of her career to date as she was beaten in straight sets by Spain’s Nuria Parrizas Diaz in the final of the Canberra International – an event one rung below the full WTA Tour.

Dart, 27, will now take part in Australian Open qualifying, which begins on Monday.

At the Brisbane International, Heather Watson missed out on a sixth WTA doubles title when she and her Beligian partner Greet Minnen were beaten in straight sets by Jelena Ostapenko and Lyudmyla Kichenok, but Lloyd Glasspool and Dutch partner Jean-Julien Rojer reached Sunday’s men’s doubles final.

Also in Brisbane, Denmark’s Holger Rune faced tough opposition from unseeded Roman Safiullin but eventually secured his place in the men’s final with a 6-4 7-6 (7-0) win.

Russia’s Safiullin fought back from a set down before world number eight Rune dominated the tie-break to confirm a final place against Bulgarian second seed Grigor Dimitrov.

Dimitrov eased through by seeing off Australian Jordan Thompson, who beat Rafael Nadal in a three-and-a-half hour marathon in Friday night’s semi-final.

Thompson fought hard once again, but Dimitrov broke him once in each set to win 6-3 7-5.

World number four Elena Rybakina comfortably beat Czech teenager Linda Noskova 6-3 6-2 to reach the women’s final.

Kazakhstan’s Rybakina will face world number two Aryna Sabalenka on Sunday, a repeat of the 2023 Australian Open final which was won by Sabalenka.

Sabalenka beat fellow Belarusian Victoria Azarenka 6-2 6-4 in her semi-final.

“I love matches against Elena [Rybakina],” said Sabalenka after her win.

“It’s always high-quality. I hope it’s going to be a great battle tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to it.”