WTA Finals: Iga Swiatek enters SF in style; sets encounter with Aryna Sabalenka

Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula will need to put their partnership and friendship aside during Saturday’s SF

The three remaining semi-final places at the WTA Finals were determined on Friday, in Cancun. The two scheduled round-robin matches of the Chetumal Group were played even as the rain-postponed round-robin clash between Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina, of the Bacalar Group, was also completed.

In the Chetumal Group, Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff clinched semi-final berths. Iga Swiatek got the better of Ons Jabeur, 6-1, 6-2 in an hour and seven minutes. Prior to that, Gauff’s match against Marketa Vondrousova went the distance with the American rebounding after losing the first set to the Czech, 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-3.

Swiatek’s match saw her maintain her dominance over her colleague, Jabeur. She won 77% of her first-serve points to the latter’s 60%. The Pole also won 81% or 17 of 21 points played on return on Jabeur’s second serve, while winning 59% of her second-serve points.

Despite her struggles on her second serve, Jabeur did bring up five break points on Swiatek’s serve but could only convert one of these. Swiatek, meanwhile, converted five break points on the Tunisian’s serve. The win meant that Swiatek, like Jessica Pegula in the Bacalar Group, has moved on ahead in the tournament on an undefeated note.

Gauff’s match against Vondrousova had several ups and downs from both players. In the first set, it was Vondrousova who’d to steady her ship after having gone up by two breaks over her teenaged rival. In the second set, it was the third-ranked Gauff who squandered her advantage and even came close to losing the match, after the 2023 Wimbledon winner served for the match in the 12th game.

Eventually, after having pocketed the tie-break and the second set, Gauff moved on with decisiveness to win the third set and the win for herself.

WTA Finals: Aryna Sabalenka dashes Elena Rybakina’s semis’ hopes
Lastly, in the Sabalenka-Rybakina face-off, the Kazakh did win the second set 6-3 but thereafter Sabalenka made her way back into the match with such surety that the 2022 Wimbledon champion had no answers.

Sabalenka eventually made off with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory for herself, finishing second to Pegula’s first. Now, for a chance to reach Sunday’s final, Aryna Sabalenka will play Iga Swiatek. The match-up between the world’s top-ranked and the second-highest ranked players will also essentially be a match-off to see who finishes the season as the world’s best-ranked player. Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff will have an American derby in the hunt to make to the final in Mexico.

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