Coco Gauff starts season with Auckland ASB Classic title

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The 2023 ASB Classic is the third title Gauff has banked in her career to date. Despite enjoying a good season overall, Gauff went without a title in 2022, having last lifted a trophy in Parma in 2021. The American did not drop a set through five matches at the ASB Classic in Auckland, losing just 22 games. From the start, the American demonstrated her skill and experience. After the final was delayed due to rain, Gauff broke promptly in the first game and built a 5-1 lead before the rain returned as she was about to serve on set point. The short wait, however, was insufficient to calm Gauff down. When the players returned to court, Gauff smoothly served out the first set and didn't make a single unforced error in the second set. Masarova had five break points in the sixth set to put pressure on the American, but Gauff saved them all and broke to seal the victory. Auckland was beset by poor weather this week which saw the tournament move indoors. "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." Gauff proved to be the player who handled the shifting sands in Auckland the best. Another player who rode the trials, was Masarova and she banked wins over No.2 seed Sloane Stephens and Karolina Muchova en route to her first WTA Tour final.

"My first WTA final, I'm really disappointed with today's match," Masarova said.

"I couldn't really play my game. Coco was playing amazing. The few chances I had she played really unbelievable."

Gauff wished Masarova the best of luck in her efforts to reach the Australian Open via the qualifying tournament. The American will be in Melbourne to enjoy a week of practice. "It gives me a lot of confidence, honestly," Gauff said. "You never know how your first week is gonna go. Could be good or terrible. But I think it"s been a great week for both of us." There are WTA Tour events in Adelaide and Hobart next week, for those players out to get more time on court in the early season. The draw for the Australian Open is set to take place on Thursday 12 January 2023.

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