CANCÚN: World number one Aryna Sabalenka defeated Elena Rybakina 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in the rainy group match on Friday and advanced to the semi-final match with Iga Swiatek in the WTA Finals.
The Belarusian player, who finished her group in second place after the undefeated American Jessica Pegula, continued her claim to be number one at the end of the year with a two-day victory.
He had won the first set but fell behind in the second when play was stopped after multiple rain delays on Thursday night.
Nearly 16 hours later, she and Rybakina returned to the outdoor hard courts in Cancun, where the fourth-seeded Rybakina of Kazakhstan calmly served out the second set to tie the match within minutes.
Australian Open champion Sabalenka dug deep to stop Rybakina’s momentum in the opening game of the third set, surviving nine deuces and two break points to hold serve.
She used a pair of wild forehands to break Rybakina in the fourth game.
World number two Swiatek defeated sixth-ranked Ons Jabeur 6-1, 6-2 in just 67 minutes and finished at the top of her group with a perfect 3-0 record.
US Open champion Coco Gauff defeated Wimbledon winner Marketa Vondrousova in sets 5-7, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 in the group match and advanced to the semi-finals and secured her place with Swiatek’s victory.
Gauff will face American Pegula in the semifinals, but the real spotlight will be the fight between Sabalenka and Swiatek.
If Sabalenka wins, she will finish the year ranked number one in the world, but if Swiatek wins, she could reclaim the top spot if she goes on to win the title.
A rematch of last year’s semifinal in Fort Worth, Texas, which Sabalenka won 6-2, 2-6, 6-1.
The duo shared two matches on clay this season. While Swiatek, the last champion of the French Open, won the Stuttgart final, Sabalenka won Madrid.
The matchup between Gauff and Pegula will be the first All-America semifinal at the elite season-ending event since the reintroduction of the repeat tournament format in 2003.
High winds and intermittent rain challenged players again on Friday.
Gauff weathered multiple rain delays by using an aggressive approach to win a second-set tiebreaker and continuing to attack in the third.
“Obviously it’s hard to be as aggressive as you want in the wind because the bounces are weird and the ball was moving,” Gauff said. “So I’m glad I made that adjustment and wasn’t too disappointed when I missed it. I hope you pay the price to get a good reward.
news source (www.brecorder.com)