Hail the giant killer. Diminutive American Lauren Davis is the new ASB Classic champion, and one of the most surprising names to go on the trophy.

At the start of the week the 23-year-old was a 40/1 outsider to land the title, and certainly didn't feature in any lists of possible winners, especially with the big names in the field.

As she progressed through the week - beating a succession of higher ranked opponents - no one really wanted to believe Davis would be the last one standing. The scenario reminded a little of Greece's run at the 2004 European Championships, as they were expected to fall at each new hurdle but never did.

Even leading into today's final Davis was still the underdog, but dismissed Croatian Ana Konjuh in an imperious manner, 6-3 6-1 in 71 minutes.


But if her triumph was unexpected, it was certainly not underserved. Davis has been a marvel this week. The world No61 beat four seeds in five matches - disposing of fifth seed Kiki Bertens, fourth seed Barbora Strycova, seventh seed Jelena Ostapenko and eighth seed Konjuh. She played in the longest match of the tournament (a 150 minute epic against Bertens) and two others that were a shade under two hours.

Today was particularly impressive, considering she lost three finals at the end of the 2016 season and was still hunting her first WTA tour title.

"I was pretty relaxed, I handled myself well, the wind and the situation in general. I executed my game and I'm really happy," said Davis. "Sometimes I'm so frustrated inside but today I was calm. I think I learnt from the past couple of finals that I was in. I felt like I had nothing to lose...I thought I would leave it all out on court and that's what I did."

Davis was on from the start. She put Konjuh's serve under pressure almost immediately, and forced four break opportunities in the first set, taking two of them. Konjuh came up with some wonderful shots - one cross court backhand midway through the first set was a beauty - but was hot and cold. Her shot selection was poor, too often going for 'death or glory' and missing. But she was also frustrated by Davis's tenacious approach.

"She was on every ball, getting everything back and that was unbelievable," said Konjuh. "She's a fighter. You really need to work for every point."

Davis is a marvel. In recent times at Stanley Street, only David Ferrer and Michael Chang are comparable to her ability to make an opponent play another shot. Watching her play reminds a little of the 1980s Atari computer game Pong, as the ball keeps coming back. She was a terrier today, retrieving every shot then finishing off when she got a chance.

Although she has spent most of the last week burning rubber across centre court, Davis is planning an active celebration tomorrow. After some organic wine last night with her coach - she switched to an "80 per cent" organic diet four months ago - Davis wants to go zip lining on Sunday, then plans to take on the waves on Auckland's east coast.

"I'd love to go surfing," said Davis. "But I'm still a beginner so I'm not sure if I could handle the waves here yet."


After what we've seen this week, it's hard to imagine the whitewater being a problem.