Maria Sakkari and Aryna Sabalenka victoriously opened the WTA Finals in Fort Worth as round-robin action kicked off in the Nancy Richey Group.
A week after falling to Jessica Pegula in the final of Guadalajara, Maria Sakkari took a pair of tiebreaks 7-6(6) 7-6(4) to beat the American at the start of the WTA Finals. When they faced each other the previous weekend, Sakkari was exhausted, having had to finish her rain-delayed semifinal before the title match. On Monday at Dickies Arena, Sakkari’s battery was fully charged for this tricky Nancy Richey Group opener filled with momentum swings.
Pegula was also in doubles action partnered with Coco Gauff and it was yet another loss for the American, as they were beaten by Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan 6-4 4-6 10-7.
The fifth-seeded Sakkari will next face seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka, who won four straight points to come back from 5-3 down in the second-set tiebreak against Ons Jabeur to stay alive and eventually defeat the two-time Grand Slam runner-up 3-6 7-6(5) 7-5. Sabalenka has been involved in a Tour-leading 27 three-set matches this season. Jabeur has only won one of past eight matches against Top 10 opponents.
Round-robin play in the Nancy Richey Group continues on Wednesday. Tuesday’s schedule commences the Tracy Austin Group action, with Iga Swiatek taking on Daria Kasatkina and Coco Gauff facing Caroline Garcia.