Aryna Sabalenka, the world’s number-one player, delivered a dominant performance at the WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico. She swiftly defeated Maria Sakkari with a remarkable score of 6-0, 6-1.
Sabalenka, determined to maintain her top-ranking status after a spectacular season, proved too formidable for Sakkari.
Although Sakkari had secured two of her three wins in nine prior encounters with Sabalenka during previous editions of the season finale, this time, the Greek world number nine couldn’t match her opponent’s prowess.
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As a result, Sabalenka ascended to the top of Group A, sharing the position with American Jessica Pegula. After the U.S. Open, Australian Open champion Sabalenka overcame four-time major winner Iga Swiatek to take the top slot.
She will stay there provided she wins all of her matches in round-robin play or advances to the final. Earlier, Pegula defeated an unreliable Elena Rybakina 7-5 6-2 by winning 10 of the previous 12 games.
With a 5-3 lead in the opening set, the big-serving Rybakina appeared ready to win it as she went up to the service line, but Pegula elevated her game in the return game to get a vital break.
Sabalenka’s Dominant Display and Respect for Sakkari
During the match, Sabalenka won 11 straight games and five of nine breakpoint opportunities, finishing in 74 minutes.
“She’s an amazing player. She’s always fighting for every ball,” Sabalenka said.
“I knew no matter what the score is that she would fight for it. That’s what makes her a really tough opponent.”
“You know against Maria, any time she can come back. You give her a little bit and she’ll take that and keep fighting. I just tried to stay in the moment.”
Pegula’s Precision and Momentum Surge
Pegula capitalized on this momentum to win four games in a row to finish the set, and her accurate ball hitting outclassed the Kazakhstani, who committed 35 unintentional errors during the match.
“I feel like she just made a couple of careless errors and I was able to take advantage of it at the right time and ride that momentum all the way through the second set,” Pegula told Tennis Channel after securing the win.
“I thought I was returning really well, reading her serve a little bit more, and was able to play some good tennis.”