Sakkari, Sabalenka cause WTA Finals upsets
Maria Sakkari defeated Jessica Pegula in the first round robin single match of the WTA Finals in Fort Worth, avenging her defeat to the American in the Guadalajara final eight days ago.
For Sakkari, who reached the semifinals of the 2021 WTA finals, the 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) victory over world number 3 Pegula marked his first win in the top-five of the year.
The first set lasted 71 minutes – one minute longer than the entire Guadalajara final – and Sakkari secured the third game point of the tiebreak with a forehand.
The Greek took a 3-0 lead in the second set before Pegula reacted, saving some match points and holding the serve to force another tiebreak. However, she was unable to send the match to a deciding set.
“It’s never easy against Jess. She is an amazing player, she is very confident at the moment, ”said Sakkari, number 5 in the world. “I knew it was going to be extremely difficult, but I fought hard and trusted my game.”
Later on opening day, number 7 Sabalenka returned to beat two-time Grand Slam finalist and world number 2 Ons Jabeur 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 after being down by two points lost.
Jabeur was leading 5-3 in the tiebreak, but Sabalenka grabbed the next four points in a row to force a third set.
Don’t look at the score, Sabalenka thought to herself. “Keep trying.”
A resigned Jabeur, who meets Pegula on Wednesday in the round robin format, later said: “I have lost my chances.”