Coco Gauff Wins Third WTA Title in Auckland
Teenager Coco Gauff defeated Rebeka Masarova in straight sets to win her third career singles title in Auckland.
The impressive world number seven won 6-1 6-1 in the final capping an exceptional week of straight set victories. Gauff’s title win was her first since Parma in 2021 as she heads into the Australian Open with momentum.
“Honestly, a great week for me despite the rain,” Gauff said. “Couldn’t ask for a better start to my season. First title on hard since I was 15. I’m happy to be successful on a surface that I love.”
The top seed faced challenging conditions in Auckland, as the tournament was forced to use its indoor courts at times when rain halted play outdoors.
Gauff looked in fine form early on in the final, breaking twice to lead 5-1, before rain stopped her from serving the set out.
The 18-year-old picked up where she left off when the rain stopped, ripping a stunning cross-court backhand through Masarova to take the set.
Saving seven break points in the second set, Gauff delivered on the big moments, and took her second match point on the Spaniards serve.
Gauff, who is the youngest player in the top 50 of the WTA rankings, will be heading into the Australian Open as one of the favourites, while her final opponent Masarova will contest the qualifying event which begins on Monday.
Gauff also confirmed that she will play alongside compatriot Jessica Pegula in the women’s doubles. The pair made two Major finals last year, with Gauff reaching world number one in doubles back in August.
Grand Slam Glory Is The Main Goal For America’s Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff has big aspirations and she isn’t afraid to speak openly about them.
Following her second round win over Julia Grabher at the French Open on Thursday, the 19-year-old played down the fixation on her current ranking which is No.6 in the world. Gauff admits that her position is something that doesn’t concern her in the sport unless she is sitting at the top of the world rankings.
“I’m not a ranking person at all. The goal is No.1, and I think that’s when I would care about the ranking,” she stated in her press conference.
“Anything in between two and 10, I mean, I’m going to be honest, it’s not that important to me.”
Gauff first broke into the world’s top 10 in September 2022 and has remained there ever since. At the time she was the youngest top 10 debutant on the WTA Tour since Nicole Vaidisova in 2006. She has been ranked as high as No.4 in the world.
“When I made the top 10, it was a cool accomplishment, but for me it was never about staying there. I only want to go upwards,” she said. “The biggest goal is to win Grand Slams, and I think the ranking will come with Grand Slams.”
It was 12 months ago at Roland Garros where Gauff achieved her best performance at a major by reaching the final before losing in straight sets to Iga Swiatek. The tournament is her best Grand Slam in terms of match wins (13) and is the only one where she has reached the quarter-finals or better on multiple occasions. Gauff also won the French Open girls’ title back in 2018 at the age of just 14.
Five years on from the junior triumph, she has become a regular fixture on the Tour. So much so, that there is already another generation of players on the rise. One of those includes Russia’s Mirra Andreeva who says her ultimate goal in tennis is to break Novak Djokovic’s all-time Grand Slam title record which currently stands at 22. Andreeva, who is only the seventh player under the age of 17 to reach the third round of Roland Garros since 1993, will be Gauff’s next opponent.
“I think she knows the game well, and she’s proved her position to be here and proved in her results in the past, so I don’t think the age thing matters,” Gauff commented on her next opponent.
“I’ve never thought about my age, to be honest. This will be my third time playing someone younger than me.
“Honestly, the first two times I didn’t even think about it because when you step on the court, you just see your opponent, and you don’t really think about the personal side of things. You just see forehand, backhand, serve, and all the same.”
Gauff will play Andreeva on Saturday.
Gael Monfils Withdraws From French Open Clash With Rune
After winning a marathon first round clash at the French Open on Tuesday, Gael Monfils has been forced to pull out of the tournament due to a left wrist injury.
The 36-year-old defeated Sebastian Baez in a five-set thriller in his opening match at his home Grand Slam which took place late at night on the Phillip Chatrier Court. Monfils’ win was the first he has recorded on the Tour since returning to action following a foot problem. He suffered a plantar fascia rupture in his right foot last year which sidelined him from competition for seven months.
Now Monfils’ latest injury setback concerns his wrist which he started to feel pain in whilst playing against Baez. He has subsequently been advised to not continue playing to avoid worsening the issue.
“Actually, physically, I’m quite fine. I was quite happy this morning. I woke up quite good, but I had the problem with my wrist that I cannot solve,” Monfils said in a late-night press conference on Wednesday. “Felt it during the match, actually the whole match [yesterday]. And unfortunately even [though] we pushed it ’til tonight, just came back again for another exam, and yes, waited a little bit.
“The doctor said [it] was not good to play with that type of injury. Yesterday was actually very risky, and then today definitely said I should stop.”
Monfils has been diagnosed with a Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC) injury. He has undergone an Arthroscan (MRI) which will establish how long he may be sidelined from the sport. The Frenchman is set to find out the results later today.
“I think had it been totally broken it would have been more serious, but it’s partial,” Monfils said. “So I’ll know more about the length of time when I’m off the courts. But the doctor said he hopes I’ll be able to play on grass.”
Due to his withdrawal, Danish sixth seed Holger Rune will move into the third round where he will play either Genaro Alberto Olivieri or Andrea Vavassori who have both come through the qualifying rounds.
As for the schedule of play at Roland Garros, Monfils’ match was set to take place in the evening slot. It has been replaced by Alexander Zverev’s clash with Alex Molcan.
Dissatisfied Aryna Sabalenka Reaches French Open Third Round
Aryna Sabalenka has sealed her place in the last 32 of the French Open for the fourth consecutive year after overcoming a spirited performance from qualifier Iryna Shymanovich.
The world No.2 powered her way to a 7-5, 6-2, win over her compatriot in a match where she at times struggled to maintain consistency in her shot-making. Sabalenka’s powerful hitting produced some stunning shots but also resulted in some costly errors which proved pragmatic at times.
“I’m not really happy with my game today,” said Sabalenka, who hit 23 unforced errors compared to 21 winners. “I’m going to work a little bit tomorrow and make sure I’m ready for the next round a little bit better than I was today.”
The first set was a far-from-perfect performance from the reigning Australian Open champion who produced a total of 17 unforced errors. Sabalenka looked to be on a good footing early after breaking for a 4-2 lead but her inconsistency enabled Shymanovich to claw her way back to level. Nudging ahead to a 6-5 lead, the second seed snatched the opener after prevailing in a marathon seven-deuce service game. Two set points came and went before Sabalenka converted her third with the help of a drop shot from her opponent landing out.
Sabalenka, who is challenging Iga Swiatek for the No.1 spot in Paris, started the second set emphatically by breaking for a 2-0 lead. However, she failed to capitalize on the opportunity as once again Shymanovich broke back. Prompting her to look towards her entourage in the crowd in frustration.
Despite the blip, the 25-year-old bounced back to crush her opponent’s hope of a shock win. Surging to a 5-2 lead, Sabalenka worked her way to three match points with a powerful forehand strike that forced her rival to return the ball out. She prevailed on her second opportunity after a Shymanovich shot crashed into the net.
“It was a tough match,” Sabalenka reflected. “She played really great tennis and I’m happy that no matter what I was able to fight for every point. I’m happy to get this win.”
Sabalenka will next take on either Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova or Magdalena Frech. Should she win that match, she will achieve her best-ever run at the French Open. Roland Garros is the only Grand Slam where she is yet to reach the semi-final stage.
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