Coco Gauff reaches semifinals at ASB Classic

asb classic
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AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Top-seeded Coco Gauff beat Zhu Lin of China 6-3, 6-2 to reach the semifinals of the ASB Tennis Classic in a tournament which has been dogged by bleak weather and diminished by waning star power.

Venus Williams, second-seeded Sloane Stephens and former U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu all were beaten in the second round and for the third day in a row, matches were moved indoors because of rain and played without spectators.

Another seeded player, third-seeded former U.S. Open finalist Leylah Fernandez, was beaten 6-4, 6-2 by Belgian qualifier Ysaline Bonaventure.

Gauff deserved an audience for her impressive win over Zhu which she achieved in only 76 minutes and earned her a ninth semifinal of her career. The American hasn’t dropped a set at the tournament.

Zhu has faced Americans in each round of the tournament so far, beating Madison Brengle in the first round and Williams in three sets in the second round on Thursday.

But Gauff was in top form Friday. She served eight aces, won 89% of first serve points and didn’t face a break point, converting three of 13 chances to break on Zhu’s serve.

“It was a really great match for me,” Gauff said. “Each match I’m improving and that’s what I love to see. She’s not an easy player obviously, beating Venus yesterday and she was probably coming off a lot of momentum. But I was glad I was able to stay focused.”

Gauff adapted better than most to the indoor courts which players say are faster and slicker than those outdoors. Her game seemed unaffected and she played her groundstrokes with confidence.

But Gauff missed the crowd.

“It’s not the ideal conditions to play in, no fans and I’m sad they can’t see the matches,” she said. “But at the end of the day it’s tennis and I’m glad to be on the court.”

Gauff’s view contrasted with that of Raducanu, who blamed the indoor courts for the ankle injury she sustained during her second-round match on Thursday.

Raducanu, who beat Fernandez in the 2021 U.S. Open final, said the courts were too slippery. She rolled her left ankle in the second set of her match against Slovakian qualifier Viktoria Kuzmova and couldn’t continue.

Kuzmova bowed out after a 6-3, 6-2 loss to seventh-seeded Danka Kovinic.

Mikael Ymer fined about $40K after default for hitting umpire stand with racket

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PARIS — Swedish tennis player Mikael Ymer was docked about $40,000 after being disqualified for smashing his racket against the umpire’s chair at a tournament the week before he competed at the French Open.

An ATP Tour spokesman said Ymer forfeited about $10,500 in prize money and 20 rankings he earned for reaching the second round of the Lyon Open. Ymer also was handed an on-site fine of about $29,000.

The spokesman said the ATP Fines Committee will conduct a review of what happened to determine whether any additional penalties are warranted.

The 56th-ranked Ymer, who is 24 and owns a victory over current No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, was defaulted in Lyon for an outburst late in the first set against French teenager Arthur Fils last week.

Ymer was upset that the chair umpire would not check a ball mark after a shot by Fils landed near a line. As the players went to the sideline for the ensuing changeover, Ymer smacked the base of the umpire’s stand with his racket twice – destroying his equipment and damaging the chair.

That led to Ymer’s disqualification, making Fils the winner of the match.

After his 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 loss to 17th-seeded Lorenzo Musetti in the first round at Roland Garros, Ymer was asked whether he wanted to explain why he reacted the way he did in Lyon.

“With all due respect, I think it’s pretty clear from the video what caused it and why I reacted the way I reacted. Not justifying it at all, of course,” Ymer replied. “But for me to sit here and to explain? I think it’s pretty clear what led me to that place. I think that’s pretty clear in the video.”

Debutant Stearns beats former champ Ostapenko to reach French Open 3rd round

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PARIS — French Open debutant Peyton Stearns produced the biggest win of her career by defeating former champion Jelena Ostapenko to reach the third round at Roland Garros.

Stearns, a former player at the University of Texas, only turned professional in June last year.

Ostapenko won the 2017 French Open but has since failed to advance past the 3rd round. The 17th-seeded Latvian dropped her serve five times against Stearns and hit 28 unforced errors in her 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 loss.

The 21-year-old Stearns has been climbing the WTA rankings and entered the French Open at No. 69 on the back of an encouraging clay-court campaign.

Third-seeded Jessica Pegula also advanced after Camila Giorgi retired due to injury. The American led 6-2 when her Italian rival threw in the towel.

Only hours after husband Gael Monfils won a five-set thriller, Elina Svitolina rallied past qualifier Storm Hunter 2-6, 6-3, 6-1.

In the men’s bracket, former runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas ousted Roberto Carballes Baena 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2. The fifth-seeded Greek was a bit slow to find his range and was made to work hard for two sets but rolled on after he won the tiebreaker.

No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz and No. 3 Novak Djokovic are on court later. Alcaraz meets Taro Daniel on Court Philippe Chatrier, where Djokovic will follow against Martin Fucsovics in the night session.