American teenager Coco Gauff successfully defended her Auckland Classic title by battling back from a set down to defeat Elina Svitolina.
The US Open champion triumphed 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-3 to record her seventh win in eight career WTA singles finals so far.
Nineteen-year-old Gauff has now won 29 of her past 33 singles matches.
Elsewhere, Elena Rybakina claimed the Brisbane Internattional title with a dominant straight-set win over Aryna Sabalenka.
The match was a repeat of last year’s Australian Open final, in which Sabalenka fought back from a set down to win her first major title, but on this occasion Rybakina swept the Belarusian aside 6-0 6-3.
An emotional Grigor Dimitrov clinched his first title for six years by beating Danish top seed Holger Rune 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in the men’s final.
In the men’s doubles final, Briton Lloyd Glasspool and Dutch team-mate Jean-Julien Rojer won a match tie-break to prevail 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 12-10 against German top seeds Tim Putz and Kevin Krawietz.
Gauff overcomes tough test to retain title
Gauff has never made it beyond the fourth round at the Australian Open but her form approaching this year’s opening major suggests she is ready to improve that record in 2024.
The teenager fulfilled the Grand Slam-winning potential she had shown since bursting on to the scene as a 15-year-old at Wimbledon in 2019 by clinching her maiden success at her home major in September.
She had only dropped 15 games in her four matches in Auckland prior to Sunday’s final, while her nine-match winning run at the tournament had been achieved without dropping a set.
A meeting with second seed Svitolina proved a much sterner test for Gauff – although it was one she would come through with admirable composure.
The Ukrainian, ranked 25th in the world just nine months after returning from maternity leave, clinched the tie-break at the end of an opening set in which Gauff squandered two set points when leading 5-4.
That was the first set Gauff had lost in two editions of the tournament – and it would be the last.
The American broke Svitolina’s serve three times in an impressive second-set response, before a single break in the eighth game of the decider allowed her to serve out for the title.
“This was my first time ever having to defend a title so I’m really happy I was able to do that today,” Gauff said.
“I’d like to congratulate Elina and your team on an incredible week. What you do, being a mum, coming back so fast and at such a high level, is inspiring.”
Joking, she added: “Hopefully – not any time soon – I’ll be able to do it like you did.”