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Gauff: Auckland title will boost confidence at Australian Open

Top seed Coco Gauff says taking the Auckland Classic title on Sunday will give her “a lot of confidence” ahead of the Australian Open.

The American teenager cruised to victory in the final, negotiating two long shutouts and outpacing Spanish qualifier Rebeka Masarova 6-1, 6-1.

She completed a dominant week for the world number seven, who went unset at the tournament and effortlessly sidelined her 130th-ranked opponent to grab her third WTA title and her first in nearly two years.

Showing the kind of form that took her to the French Open final seven months ago, Gauff’s methodical groundstrokes look set to be a potent weapon at the first Grand Slam of the year which kicks off in Melbourne shortly more than a week.

The 18-year-old said her fitness this week was a major boost before crossing the Tasman Sea.

It was also comforting that she emerged better for a grueling off-season in which she was challenged by head coach Diego Moyano.

“That gives me a lot of confidence, honestly. You never know how your first week will go – it could be good or terrible. But I think it’s been a great week,” she said.

“Despite the rain, I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season.

“In the offseason, I play with a bunch of guys and I was winning some but losing most, so when I played here it was nice to get some wins under my belt.

“It’s thanks to the good off-season I’ve had. Thanks to my coach, he clearly knows what he’s doing.”

Gauff also displayed a cool mental approach, unfazed by the stormy weather that has plagued the WTA250 event in Auckland all week.

Two of his five matches were forced indoors while two others were disrupted by rain, including the final, which started nearly two hours late.

Gauff was serving at set point in the first set when another downpour forced the players to be sidelined for more than two hours.

The marathon match looked grueling for 23-year-old Masarova, who was playing her seventh match in eight days, including qualifying.

Masarova admitted that fatigue was a factor and was “disappointed” with her performance in a first WTA finals appearance.

However, she was full of praise for Gauff.

“Obviously, Coco is playing great and hasn’t really given me a chance,” the former French Open junior champion said.

“The few chances I had, she played incredible, congratulations to her.

“It’s been a long week, too, with waiting, stopping and restarting. I think I warmed up, like, 25 times total.