Auckland: Ruthless Coco Gauff ousts No. 8 seed, Elina Svitolina destroys No. 5 seed

Gauff and Svitolina safely through to the Auckland semifinal.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Auckland: Ruthless Coco Gauff ousts No. 8 seed, Elina Svitolina destroys No. 5 seed
© Getty Images Sport - Phil Walter

Defending Auckland champion Coco Gauff put up a dominant display to reach the semifinal, while No. 2 seed Elina Svitolina also clinched a very convincing win to reach the last four in New Zealand. 

Gauff, seeded at No. 1, delivered a ruthless performance against Varvara Gracheva, demolishing the No. 8 seed with a 6-1 6-1 scoreline. After losing just six games to Claire Liu and three games versus Brenda Fruhvirtova, Gauff looked even more dominant on Friday against Gracheva. 

On the other side, 2023 Wimbledon semifinalist Svitolina was also straight business on Friday, dismantling fifth-seeded Marie Bouzkova 6-0 6-3. Going into the match, no one really expected Svitolina to have a very easy job against Bouzkova, considering that she had a very tough match against Emma Raducanu a day earlier. Also, Bouzkova was playing great and coming off a 6-0 6-1 win over Amanda Anisimova in the Auckland round-of-16. 

But what was expected to probably be a tight battle, ended in Svitolina dominating Bouzkova for an Auckland semifinal spot.

Gauff gave no chance to Gracheva

Gauff made a strong start to the match, breaking Gracheva early for a 3-0 lead. After falling down to an early break, Gracheva managed to get on the board in the fourth game after routinely serving out her service game. But it didn't lead to Gracheva playing better or threatening Gauff as the American claimed her second break in the sixth game before serving out for the opener in the following game. 

After winning the last three games of the first set, Gauff also started the second set with back-to-back breaks and a 4-0 lead. Down by a set and two breaks, Gracheva managed to end Gauff's run of seven consecutive games by serving out the fifth game of the second set. That was all Gracheva as Gauff earned her sixth break of the match in the seventh game, when the No. 8 seed was serving to stay in the match.

Coco Gauff and Varvara Gracheva
Coco Gauff and Varvara Gracheva© Getty Images Sport - Phil Walter
 

Afterward, Gauff highlighted her serve as something she was really pleased about.

"I thought I served really well, probably the best so far this tournament, which was something I was working really hard on in the off-season," Gauff said after her win over Gracheva.

Svitolina ousts Bouzkova

Svitolina came out firing as broke Bouzkova three times and didn't face any break points en route to bageling the Czech in the first set. Also, Svitolina didn't allow Bouzkova a single break point in the opener.

After losing the first set, Bouzkova actually looked better on the court at the start of the second set. In the third game, Bouzkova earned her first break point chance and realized it before also serving out the next game for a 3-1 lead. Just when it seemed that Bouzkova was gaining momentum and challenging Svitolina, the Ukrainian responded by winning the next five games to overturn the second-set deficit and complete a two-set win.

Elina Svitolina
Elina Svitolina© Getty Images Sport - Phil Walter
 

Gauff set to meet Emma Navarro

Gauff wasn't the only American that sealed an Auckland semifinal spot on Friday as 22-year-old Navarro did the same after beating No. 7 seed Petra Martic 6-4 6-3.

After getting broken by Martic in the first game of the match, Navarro responded by instantly breaking back the Croatian in the following game. Navarro then went up by a break in the fourth game but Martic managed to get the break back in the fifth game. After blowing an early break, Navarro had a chance to again go up by a break but she missed out on three consecutive break points in the eighth game. However, not realizing those break points didn't impact Navarro, who broke Martic in the 10th game - the game in which the Croatian was serving to stay in the first set.

Martic's game collapsed after losing the first set in a crushing way as Navarro started the second set with back-to-back breaks and a 4-0 lead. Martic managed to get one break back in the fifth game but Navarro held on to her second break as the American converted her third match point when serving for the match in the ninth game.

Emma Navarro
Emma Navarro© Getty Images Sport - Phil Walter
 

When Navarro and 19-year-old Gauff meet in Auckland, it is going to be their first meeting. Ahead of the match, Navarro spoke very highly of Gauff.

"She's an insane athlete. She covers the court super-well and is really solid in her whole game. There's no holes in her game," Navarro said of Gauff ahead of their match.

Svitolina battles next against Wang Xiyu

While Gauff will be taking on Navarro, Svitolina will need to beat world No. 71 Wang in order to reach the Auckland final. In the Auckland quarterfinal, Wang came back from a set down to beat Diane Parry 6-7 (3) 6-3 6-4. 

Wang didn't start the match really well as Parry opened an early 3-0 lead. After saving five break points in the fourth game and two more in the sixth game, Wang broke Parry in the ninth game - the game in which the Frenchwoman was serving for the first set. Then, Wang also saved three set points on her serve in the 12th game to force a tie-break. After working really hard to get herself back into the first set, Wang had a 3-2 lead in the first-set tie-break but then lost the next five points and the opener ultimately.

After losing a tight first set, Wang was also twice down by a break in the second set. Through the first five games of the second set, Parry had a 3-2 lead and was serving. Down by a set and a break, Wang responded by claiming back-to-back breaks and winning the next four games to overturn the deficit and send the match into a decider.

At the start of the third set, Parry bounced back and led 4-1 after the opening five games. Two games away from the loss, Wang impressively responded as she earned back-to-back breaks - won five games in a row - to overturn the third-set deficit and complete her comeback win.

When Wang, 22, meets 29-year-old Svitolina in Auckland, it is going to be their first meeting. It remains to be seen if Wang can stun Svitolina and make the Auckland final.

Coco Gauff Elina Svitolina
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