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Iga Swiatek tops Aryna Sabalenka to reach WTA Finals title match

Iga Swiatek tops Aryna Sabalenka to reach WTA Finals title match

CANCUN, Mexico — Iga Swiatek gave herself a shot at her first WTA Finals title and the year-end top ranking by eliminating No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 6-2 in a rain-suspended semifinal Sunday.

The second-seeded Swiatek, a 22-year-old from Poland, will meet the fifth-seeded Jessica Pegula, a 29-year-old from the United States, on Monday for the trophy at the tour’s season-ending championship. Both players went undefeated during round-robin play and have claimed all eight sets they’ve played on the outdoor hard court in Cancun.

The final was supposed to be held Sunday, but a series of showers throughout the week continued Saturday, when Pegula defeated Coco Gauff in the first semifinal. But the second semifinal, Swiatek vs. Sabalenka, was stopped in the fourth game.

When they resumed Sunday, Swiatek quickly broke, then moved out to a 4-1 lead and never really looked back.

She consistently out-hit the powerful Sabalenka, the runner-up at last year’s WTA Finals, from the baseline and wound up with more winners, 16-13, while also making fewer than half as many unforced errors, 23-10.

Swiatek, a four-time Grand Slam champion, also saved both break points she faced and won three of Sabalenka’s service games.

Sabalenka, who won the Australian Open in January for her first major title, could have guaranteed herself remaining at No. 1 by beating Swiatek. Instead, a victory over Pegula would allow Swiatek to rise from No. 2 to regain the top spot she held from April 2022 to this September, when Sabalenka overtook her.

Swiatek carries a 10-match winning streak into Monday; Pegula has won nine in a row.

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