WTA Finals: Iga Swiatek sweeps past Aryna Sabalenka after rain delay to move a step closer to world No 1 spot

Iga Swiatek, the world No 2, beat current No 1 Aryna Sabalenka in the WTA Finals to set up a last stage clash with Jessica Pegula in Cancun.

With her straight sets win over Sabalenka in the WTA Finals, Swiatek has moved a step closer to recapturing the world No 1 spot.

Swiatek, the world No 2, claimed her 67th win of the year and her 10th win in a row in the 6-3 6-2 victory against the current No 1 Sabalenka on Sunday in Mexico.

Sabalenka reacts after losing a point

The match, which began on Saturday, was suspended after the fourth game due to wet weather which has featured consistently throughout the tournament.

When it resumed on Sunday, Swiatek broke Sabalenka in the first game back and went on to take the win in just over 90 minutes.

“I’m really, really happy, I think that was the toughest and nicest match that I have played here,” Swiatek said afterwards.

The 22-year-old from Poland held serve throughout the match and won more than 75 per cent of her service points.

She will meet world No 5 Jessica Pegula in the final on Monday for a chance to finish the year as the world No 1.

It only took an hour for Pegula to beat her doubles partner and fellow American Coco Gauff on Saturday in a 6-2 6-1 win to continue her exceptional tournament form.

Both Pegula and four-time grand slam winner Swiatek have gone through the tournament undefeated with neither player dropping a single set.

Call for change

Martina Navratilova thinks Steve Simon should be replaced at the head of the WTA.

Simon has been chairman and chief executive of the WTA for eight years but has come under increasing fire from players recently, not least over the decision to stage the Finals outdoors in the Mexican resort of Cancun.

“Maybe it’s time for new leadership,” 18-times Grand Slam singles champion Navratilova told broadcaster Amazon Prime.

Iga Swiatek, of Poland, uses a towel as protection from the rain during a pause in the women's singles semifinal match against Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, at the WTA Finals tennis championships, in Cancun , Mexico, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
The decision to stage the WTA Finals championship in Cancun during rainy season has been condemned

“For me personally, this being a woman’s association and being involved for such a long time from the beginning, we’ve only had two women at the head of it. I think it’s time, hopefully, when we get a new leader, that it’s a woman.

“There’s plenty of them that are qualified for the job. It’s going to be hard for Steve to stay in the job somehow because everything is pointing the other way right now.”

Cancun was named as venue for the $9m WTA Finals, which brings together the top eight singles players and doubles partnerships to conclude the season, less than two months before it started on October 29.

World No 1 Sabalenka blasted the WTA over the court conditions after the opening day of group play and said she felt “disrespected” by the standard of organisation at the prestigious event.

The tournament was supposed to conclude on November 5 but rain and high winds meant the semi-final between Swiatek and Sabalenka was not completed until that day, with the final delayed to Monday.

“The players adjusted, they had to,” Navratilova added. “But to come to Cancun in the rainy season? You cannot be hoping it’s not going to rain at the premier event for the WTA Tour.

“You have to own the bad decisions you made and make some choices after that.

“There was a sequence of bad decisions. Ultimately, Steve Simon has been the boss for eight years and here we are.”

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