Gray skies finally cleared up at the ASB Classic on Saturday, and with that, Coco Gauff played some of her best tennis.
The top-seeded American won the first eight games in a 6-0, 6-2 semifinal victory over No.7 seed Danka Kovinic of Montenegro to move into her fourth career Hologic WTA Tour singles final, and first on hard courts since she won her first at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz in October of 2019.
It will be Gauff's first singles final on outdoor hard courts, though her Round 2 and quarterfinal matches were played indoors as a result of inclement weather.
See you in the final 👋@CocoGauff claims victory over Kovinic 6-0, 6-2 to reach the title match, her first since Roland-Garros 2022#ASBClassic pic.twitter.com/hE2Rg5cuQ8— wta (@WTA) January 7, 2023
Words from the winner: In her on-court interview, Gauff was pleased with her overall effort, though she needed four match points to secure victory. She was only broken once -- at 2-0 in the second set, for Kovinic's first game -- but immediately broke back to stay in front.
"[The match] was really good on my behalf," Gauff said afterwards. "Danka, she played really well. Today, I was playing good, but she showed fight in the end."
Championship outlook: Gauff beat three unseeded players before knocking off No.7 seed Kovinic in 73 minutes, and will face another unseeded player in the final in the hopes of winning her third career Hologic WTA Tour singles title.
Gauff has lost just 20 games in eight sets in her second trip to Auckland, which included a straight-sets win over fellow American and 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in Round 2.
First-time finalist Masarova awaits: In the final, Gauff will have her first meeting with Rebeka Masarova of Spain, who won an all-qualifier clash over Belgium's Ysaline Bonaventure 6-3, 6-3 to reach the first Hologic WTA Tour singles final of her career.
"It feels amazing, I'm high on emotions right now, so I'm super happy," Masarova said on court, after her win. "I like to think always that I can do more than I think I'm capable of doing. I just took it a match at a time."
Highlights: Masarova def. Bonaventure
World No.130 Masarova, the 2016 Junior Roland Garros singles champion, was playing in her first tour-level semifinal since she reached the final four in Gstaad that same year.
On Saturday, Masarova rose to the occasion, besting 95th-ranked Bonaventure, who was playing in the first tour-level semifinal of her career, in 67 minutes.
Masarova had a stellar day on serve, winning three-quarters of her first-service points and slamming nine aces. The Spaniard was mostly unbothered until she served for the match at 5-2 in the second set and was broken for the first time.
However, Masarova rebounded with a service break in the next game to grab the victory and advance to the final. Masarova finished the match with 16 winners to Bonaventure's 10.