Sabalenka overcomes Swiatek, Badosa secures semi-final spot

Aryna Sabalenka keeps her WTA Finals hopes alive with a three-set win over Iga Swiatek on Saturday night in Guadalajara. Swiatek is eliminated, while Paula Badosa secures a spot in the semi-finals.

Aryna Sabalenka, WTA Finals 2021

WTA Finals Guadalajara | Draw | Schedule

  • What happened: Aryna Sabalenka beat Iga Swiatek in three sets for her first win at the 2021 WTA Finals.
  • Why it matters: Sabalenka is1-1 in round-robin play and will face Maria Sakkari for a spot in the semi-finals.
  • You will also learn: Group scenarios are now straightforward; a Swiatek win would have made things complicated.

It is fair to say that both Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek raised their levels from their opening matches at the WTA Finals. The result was a thrilling round-robin contest on Saturday night in Guadalajara.

Sabalenka recovered from a slow start to outlast Swiatek 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 after two hours and 18 minutes. The Belarusian powered her way into a winner-take-all showdown against Maria Sakkari on Monday — the winner will advance to the semi-finals while the loser will be eliminated.

Sabalenka starts slow, finishes strong

Sabalenka had gotten blown out 6-4, 6-0 by Paula Badosa in her opening match at the year-end championship, and for a while it looked like more of the same would continue against Swiatek. The world No 2 won just two games in the first set and then trailed 2-1 in the second — albeit on serve. Out of nowhere, Sabalenka suddenly reeled off five games in a row to force a decider.

After breaks were traded early in the third, the decisive moment came with Swiatek serving at 5-5. The Pole, who despite the setback turned in a much better performance than what she had produced during a straight-set loss to Sakkari on Thursday, finally cracked in the 11th game. A break allowed Sabalenka to serve out, which the top seed did at love.

Chichen-Itza Group Standings

Badosa, who is 2-0 after beating Sakkari on Saturday, only needed Sabalenka to win just one set against Swiatek in order for the Spaniard to clinch a semi-final spot. A Swiatek win in straight sets would have left all four players still in contention; a three-set win for Swiatek would have sent Badosa through while keeping the other three still alive. Sabalenka’s win makes everything is simple: Badosa is in, Swiatek is out, and both Sabalenka and Sakkari are 1-1 so whoever prevails in their match on Monday will advance.

  1. Badosa, 2-0 (4 sets won, 0 sets lost) [Q]
  2. Sakkari, 1-1 (2 sets won, 2 sets lost)
  3. Sabalenka, 1-1 (2 sets won, 3 sets lost)
  4. Swiatek, 0-2 (1 set won, 4 sets lost)
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