Top seed Coco Gauff cruised into the semifinals at Auckland on Friday, continuing her strong preparations for the Australian Open.
After the win, the American sprang to the defence of the tournament’s indoor courts following stinging criticism from an injured Emma Raducanu who called the surface “incredibly slick” and “very slippery”.
“To be stopped by a freak injury, rolling an ankle, is pretty disappointing,” Raducanu said after she retired with the injury during her second-round match against Viktoria Kuzmova.
“So, to be honest it’s not a surprise that this happens to someone,” the former US Open winner added, with her participation at the upcoming Australian Open in doubt.
But Gauff said she had no problems playing indoors after taking just 73 minutes for her 6-3, 6-2 victory over China’s Zhu Lin who had earlier knocked out Venus Williams.
“They’re a little bit faster than outdoors, but that’s to be expected. For the most part they’re fine,” she said.
“I want to be outside (but) the faster the courts I can play on, especially preparing for the (Australian Open), will help me when going to move to slower courts.”
Gauff won nearly 90 percent of her first-service points against Zhu, fired eight aces and never faced a break point in the match.
In the semifinals, she will play seventh-seed Danka Kovinic from Montenegro who rolled Kuzmova 6-3, 6-2.
Canadian third seed Leylah Fernandez, surprisingly knocked out in the quarterfinals by Belgian qualifier Ysaline Bonaventure, also defended the playing surface as heavy rain again forced the players off the outdoor courts.
Fernandez, who lost the 2021 US Open final to Raducanu, was beaten 6-4, 6-2 by Bonaventure but said she was unfazed about moving indoors.
“What we got is a court, net and a tennis ball. That’s all we need. I’m just glad that we have the opportunity to play tennis and to get the tournament going,” she said.
Bonaventure will play Spain’s Rebeka Masarova who beat Karolina Muchova 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/2).
Tournament director Nicolas Lamperin said the indoor courts had been checked and were up to international standards.
“Injuries happen all the time. It could have happened on outdoor courts as well. We feel bad about the situation but the courts are fit to play.”