Gauff digs deep to beat Svitolina, retain Auckland crown

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Gauff digs deep to beat Svitolina, retain Auckland crown

Coco Gauff beat Elina Svitolina 6-7(4) 6-3 6-3 in the final of the Auckland Classic on Sunday to keep her title. She is very confident going into the Australian Open, where she wants to win her second Grand Slam title.

Gauff first came to attention at Wimbledon five years ago. The 19-year-old American had a great year in 2023, winning her first major title at the US Open in September and climbing to a career-high world ranking of number three.

The top seed from Auckland kept the good start to the new season going by winning the tune-up for the Australian Open from January 14–28. She lost only one set in the final, which was a tough match against Svitolina, who had made it to the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park twice before.

Gauff (seventh WTA singles title) said, “This is the first time I’ve ever had to defend a title, so I’m really happy I was able to do it today.”

“The tournament this year was very different,” she said, thanking the loud crowd.

“Last year it rained almost every single match and we were playing indoors with just a few people watching so it’s really cool to play in front of a packed crowd almost every match.”

In the first set, both players dropped their serves twice. Then, Gauff’s level dropped a bit when she wasted two set points at 5-3, which let Svitolina come back and take the early lead in the match via the tie-break.

But Gauff came back strong to easily win the next set and tie the match at one set apiece. She then kept her cool after getting the important break in the eighth game of the decider to seal the win.

It was great to play here for the first time, said Svitolina, a tennis player from Ukraine. She returned to the tour in April after giving birth to her daughter with Gael Monfils, another tennis player.

“I think Coco and her team are off to a great start this year. Wish you the best at the Australian Open.

“I’ve been having a great time here playing great matches.” “Obviously a tough loss today,” Svitolina said. Last year, she slowly found her best level, going all the way to the quarterfinals of the French Open and the semifinals of Wimbledon.

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