Iga Swiatek won the weather-delayed WTA Finals on Monday following a statement 6-1, 6-0 victory over Jessica Pegula in less than an hour. With the title — her first at the event — Swiatek reclaims the world No. 1 ranking from Aryna Sabalenka after an eight-week absence and will end the year in the top spot for the second consecutive season.
Even with the lopsided score that left little doubt about the outcome, the 22-year-old Swiatek couldn’t hide what the achievement meant to her. She fell to the ground in celebration after the final point, before clinching her fists as she got up and yelling her signature “Jazda” — the Polish expression for “Let’s go” — towards those in her player box.
“We had many ups and downs,” Swiatek said moments later during the trophy ceremony. “This is for sure an up. We will for sure have many more if we keep working like that.”
— wta (@WTA) November 6, 2023
So, that’s the positive news about the week in Cancun. And while Swiatek’s rise back to the top is certainly an inspiring storyline to end the season, it’s not what anyone will remember from the 2023 WTA Finals.
From start to finish, the year-end event has been marred with snafus. Swiatek even mentioned the week had “not been easy” multiple times in her victory speech.
After rumors that the tournament would be held in Saudi Arabia — and criticism surrounding the delay in announcement — Cancun was officially named as the host in September, about six weeks before play was scheduled to begin. It left the city with little time to prepare, and the stadium wasn’t ready when players arrived.
It was finished once play started on Sunday, but players were given limited time to practice on it ahead of competition and the court wasn’t in the best condition. Sabalenka said players “don’t even feel safe to move on this court” after her opening match, and later added on Instagram that “the bounce is not consistent at all.”
“I have to say though that I am very disappointed with the WTA and the experience so far at the WTA Finals,” Sabalenka wrote in a now-expired Instagram story. “As I said in my press conference tonight, as a player I really feel disrespected by the WTA. I think most of us do. This is not the level of organization we expect for the Finals.”