7 Jan 2023

Gauff all class on and off the court at ASB Classic

7:42 pm on 7 January 2023
Coco Gauff of the USA during play at the 2023 Womens's ASB Classic.

USA's Coco Gauff playing during the ASB Classic at the ASB Tennis Arena in Auckland. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

It's not accurate to say that the sun finally came out for the ASB Classic, but one of the stars certainly shone bright.

American Coco Gauff, who might just be the face of the sport for years to come, put on an absolute clinic to dispose of Montenegro's Danka Kovinić 6-0 6-2 and advance to the final.

In a week that's had its fair share of setbacks due to inclement weather and an unfortunate injury to Emma Raducanu, Gauff's hot form and willingness to simply get on with the job has been a welcome change.

Ploughing through at such a rate of knots that the folks waiting for the change of ends to take their seats were barely standing for long at all. Then again, they were barely in their seats for long anyway, as Gauff closed out the match in just over an hour - with a bit of that taken up by Kovinić receiving treatment from the physio.

"I got it in by the time the rain came," she told the media post-match.

"I have a good track record with rain, coming from Florida, so yeah I knew we had about 20 minutes left before it was going to start. And I was pretty much spot on. It definitely plays in the back of your head when you know there's a time constraint there."

While Raducanu's exit and sharp judgement of the indoor surface that she believed led to her ankle injury has created some headlines around the world, Gauff said that the fast and slick hard court had helped her in preparation for this semifinal.

"My serve was always going to be good, but indoors was better. Maybe not as many aces out there but I was winning the games and that's all that matters."

Gauff did admit that it had taken her a bit longer than she would have liked to win some key break points.

"I think in the quarterfinal and today there were errors from me, but that's just tennis so I want to work on that for the final. When the matches are closer you want to win those break points quicker."

That is a rather harsh self-assessment, given that Gauff had already shot out to a 4-0 lead in the first before there was even a hint of any sort of unforced error in her game.

However, she admitted that she was relaxed enough by the time she'd bageled Kovinić that she was enjoying the winning Kiss Cam effort during the end change.

"I was pretty relaxed … I'm trying to work more at just enjoying the moment."

The winning kiss, by two people clearly in the early stages of a relationship, matched the sultry conditions the match was played out in. However, the dark clouds that surrounded Stanley Street always looked like they were threatening to open at any moment.

In fact, Gauff's timed getting the match over with was so perfectly it started absolutely bucketing down as soon as she walked up the stairs and into the players' lounge.

Depressingly familiar is the best way to describe the sight of centre court slowly turning in a lake after that. The bad weather has been the big talking point during the week, whenever Gauff wasn't playing, that is.

Having Gauff, an American that brings with her a decent amount of media attention, make it into the final is a win on its own for the tournament. It's fair to say she's been fantastic on and off the court, playing all the right shots and giving good answers.

She will go in as heavy favourite in the final, where she'll play the winner of Belgian Ysaline Bonaventure and Spaniard Rebeka Masarova, both unseeded.

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