AUCKLAND: Top-seeded Coco Gauff advanced to the final of the ASB Classic by beating Danka Kovinic of Montenegro 6-0 6-2 on Saturday.
The American hasn't yet dropped a set at the Auckland hardcourt tournament and needed a little more than an hour to defeat seventh-seeded Kovinic to reach the fourth final of her career.
''It means a lot, the last final was the French Open,'' Gauff said. ''But on the WTA level, the last one was Parma (in 2021), so it's been a while.
''Any final is special, especially the first week of the year. I didn't expect this outcome coming into the tournament. I couldn't have asked for a better start to the season, regardless of the result tomorrow.'' The 18-year-old Gauff conceded in a courtside interview she's "in the groove" at the start of the year and just over a week ahead of the Australian Open after another impressive win.
''I guess (I'm in the groove),'' Gauff said. ''I'm in the final so it's hard to say no to that question. It was really good on my behalf.'' Gauff was also pleased to compete in front of a crowd after a week in which persistent rain forced the majority of matches indoors without spectators.
''I'm glad I was able to play in front of you guys, finally,'' she said. ''It's pretty much a sold-out house so thanks for supporting me.'' Gauff completed her win just before rain arrived to delay the second semifinal between qualifiers Ysaline Bonaventure and Rebeka Masarova.
''I have a good track record for rain, coming from Florida,'' Gauff said. ''So I knew we had about 20 minutes left and I was pretty much spot on.
''I was trying to stay focused on the match and not on the rain coming. But it definitely plays in the back of your head when you know you're close to the end and there's a time constraint.'' When play resumed, Masarova beat Bonaventure 6-3 6-3 to reach her first WTA Tour final. She has won seven matches at the tournament so far, including qualifying and beating second-seeded Sloane Stephens in the first round of the main draw.
''It feels amazing. I'm high on emotions right now,'' Masarova said. ''I like to think always that I can do more than I think I am capable of doing.''