Iga Swiatek tops Aryna Sabalenka at the WTA Finals to reach the title match and get a shot at No. 1
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Iga Swiatek tops Aryna Sabalenka at the WTA Finals to reach the title match and get a shot at No. 1

By defeating No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 6-2 in a rain-postponed semifinal on Sunday, Iga Swiatek awarded herself a chance at her first WTA Finals title and the year-ending top classification.

On Monday, the tour’s season-ending championship will pit second-seeded Swiatek, a 22-year-old from Poland, against fifth-seeded Jessica Pegula, a 29-year-old from the United States, for the trophy. Both competitors completed round-robin play undefeated and have won all eight sets played on the Cancun outdoor hard court.

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Swiatek stated, “I still feel like it’s a long way off, considering tomorrow’s match is expected to be the most difficult.”

The final was originally scheduled for Sunday; however, due to a sequence of rainfall that persisted throughout the week, it was Pegula who emerged victorious in the first semifinal against Coco Gauff on Saturday. In the fourth game, the second semifinal between Swiatek and Sabalenka was called off.

Sabalenka voiced the sentiments of all participants when she posed the following question: “What are we doing here in the midst of hurricane season? That is the first and most important question.”

Sunday, when play resumed, Swiatek broke out swiftly, took a 4-1 lead, and never looked back.

“I unequivocally wish to attribute credit to Iga.” She adapted exceptionally well to the circumstances. “Moreover, on this court, she was unquestionably considerably superior to me,” Sabalenka stated. “She recently initiated an enormous amount of pressure on me.”

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Sabalenka, the runner-up at last year’s WTA Finals, was consistently out-hit by Swiatek from the baseline. Swiatek finished with 16 more winners than Sabalenka, who committed fewer than half as many unforced errors (23-10).

Additionally, the four-time Grand Slam champion Swiatek averted both of Sabalenka’s break points and captured three of her service games.

Sabalenka, who claimed her first major title at the Australian Open in January, could have secured her position at No. 1 by defeating Swiatek. On the contrary, a triumph over Pegula would enable Swiatek to ascend from the No. 2 position and reclaim the summit she occupied from April 2022 until Sabalenka surpassed her in September of this year.

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