Coco Gauff 'serves' up a treat to reach Auckland Classic semifinals

American will play Emma Navarro for a place in the final as Rybakina and Azarenka advance at Brisbane International


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Published: Fri 5 Jan 2024, 1:32 PM

U.S. Open champion Coco Gauff moved into the semifinals of the Auckland Tennis Classic on Friday with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Varvara Gracheva of France on a rainy quarterfinals day.

The top-seeded player and defending champion needed only 24 minutes to win the first set and took the match in 52 minutes. Gauff hasn’t dropped a set at the tournament and didn’t drop a set in winning the tournament last year.

Rain delayed the start of the match and was threatening at the end. But Gauff rushed to victory with dark clouds gathering, sending down five aces.

“I thought I served really well, probably the best so far at this tournament which is something I was really working on in the off-season.," Gauff said. “Last year there was a lot more rain so I was glad I was able to finish my match.”

Gauff will play fellow American Emma Navarro in the semifinals. The fourth-seeded Navarro beat Petra Martic of France 6-4, 4-3.

Navarro lost to Martic 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 when the pair met in Cincinnati in August. She turned the tables Friday with an authoritative display, putting 80% of first serves in play and attacking Martic, particularly on her second serve.

“Tennis always keeps us on our toes so you’ve got to be ready for things like rain delays,” Navarro said. I was happy with my performance today, played my most comfortable tennis out here.”

Navarro rushed to a 4-0 lead in the second set before Martic claimed a service break and the match went with serve until Navarro took the match on her third match point.

China's Wang Xiyu beat Diane Parry of France 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4 in another quarterfinal which lasted 3 hours, 8 minutes of court time but longer in terms of running time because of rain.

The players took the court at 5 p.m. and left at 9:35 p.m. The first set lasted 81 minutes and all three sets were hard-fought.

Wang trailed by a set and a break when the players were forced from the court for more than an hour by rain. She returned to win the second set in 47 minutes. Wang was down 3-0 and 4-1 in the deciding set but rallied again to take out the set and match on her second match point.


Meanwhile, Second-seeded Elena Rybakina only needed to play seven games in her quarterfinal Friday to reach the final four at the Brisbane International.

Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka had a tougher run, needing three sets, about 2 1/2 hours and joked about the prospect of having to wear protective headwear to advance 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 over 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko, the No. 3 seed.

Rybakina, the 2022 Wimbledon champion, won the first set 6-1 before 11th-seeded Anastasia Potapova retired from their match with an abdominal injury. She’ll next play either Linda Noskova or Mirra Andreeva.

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