AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Coco Gauff will defend her title at the Auckland Classic against Elina Svitolina after beating fellow American Emma Navarro 6-3, 6-1 in a semifinal Saturday.
Gauff needed only 62 minutes to sweep past fourth-seeded Navarro and now has won 18 straight sets and nine consecutive matches over two years in Auckland. She has lost only 15 games in four matches so far this year.
Gauff’s win in Auckland last year was the start of a golden run which culminated when she won her first major title at the U.S. Open. She seems in similar, compelling form this year, dominating matches with her serve and powerful ground shots.
She set down 10 aces in 12 games in beating Navarro.
“It’s a good start to my 2024,” Gauff said. “Emma’s a great player. We’ve played each other when I was like 12 years old and she was 15 so it’s our second time playing since then. So it’s really cool to play on this stage. I wish her the best for the rest of the season.”
Gauff is 19, Navarro 22.
Gauff broke Navarro in the opening game of the second set and went on to win the set in 32 minutes in a controlled and dominating performance. Her deep ground shots allowed her to follow to the net where she dominated and used her powerful forehand with accuracy.
“I’m just being aggressive with my serve and return,” Gauff said. “We played one set in practice over here before the tournament began and she was playing really well so I think I knew I had to be at my best to be able to win.”
Gauff’s opponent in Sunday’s final will be second-seeded Svitolina, who needed two medical timeouts on her way to a 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Wang Xiyu of China.
Svitolina dropped her serve in the third game of the first set and again, to love, in the fifth game to trail 4-1.
She received courtside treatment for a lower back injury then left the court for a medical timeout. When she returned, she immediately broke Wang’s serve but lost her own and lost the set 6-2.
Svitolina took the second set with a solitary break in the 10th game. She called for another medical timeout at the start of the third set but returned to hold serve and to break Wang for 3-1 and 5-1 leads.
Wang broke back in the seventh game but Svitolina rallied and served out the set in the ninth game which included two aces.
AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis