WTA Finals: Aryna Sabalenka gets Cancun party started; reasserts bid to remain no. 1

Elena Rybakina looked quite unable to match up to the level of Jessica Pegula, leading to the latter's triumph

by Abbey Johnson
WTA Finals: Aryna Sabalenka gets Cancun party started; reasserts bid to remain no. 1
© Clive Brunskill/ Getty Images

Aryna Sabalenka and Jessica Pegula were the first two winners at the WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico on Sunday. The no. 1 player in the world and the world’s fifth-highest ranked player who are grouped together in the Bacalar Group, played their first round-robin match-ups against Maria Sakkari and Elena Rybakina respectively.

In her match against the Greek, Sabalenka took just an hour and 14 minutes to dismantle her opponent’s game, 6-0, 6-1. In fact, the scoreline of the second set would’ve been 6-0 had Sabalenka been able to make good of one of the triple match points she had.

However, despite the match slipping away from her hands from the get-go, Sakkari didn’t concede her ground and laid claim to a game, before Sabalenka secured the win. Sabalenka saved all five break points that came up in the match.

Of these only one came in the second set. The 25-year-old dropped just four points of 16 played on her first serve but won five of eight points played on return on Sakkari’s first serve. On her own second serve, Sabalenka was shaky but she still did better to win eight of 11 points played on return on the eighth seed’s second serve.

WTA Finals: Jessica Pegula, Aryna Sabalenka display fine form

Meanwhile, in the second match, Pegula pocketed a 7-5, 6-2 win over third seed and world no. 3 Elena Rybakina. The American needed an hour and 23 minutes to bag the win.

Rybakina began the match on a confident note and was able to keep Pegula at bay in the first set. However, she wasn’t able to close out the set while serving for it in the ninth game. As it turned out, this was the opening Pegula needed to change the course of the match.

She won the next four games in a row in that set to take the lead in the match. In the second set, Rybakina looked quite uncomfortable and could only take two games before Pegula shut the door on the match. Pegula lost her serve twice in the match.

One break of serve came in the first set while the other, in the second. She, however, converted five break points on Rybakina’s serve including converting all three break points that came her way in the second set. Now, after these two results at the WTA Finals, Aryna Sabalenka and Jessica Pegula are the top two players featured at the top of the Bacalar Group, in that order.

Aryna Sabalenka Elena Rybakina Jessica Pegula