Sabalenka joins Sakkari in final four

BELARUSIAN Aryna Sabalenka has reached the semi-finals of the WTA Finals event in Fort Worth, Texas, after overcoming Jessica Pegula in straight sets. The seventh seed handed Pegula her third straight loss in the event, meaning that the two American representatives – Pegula and Coco Gauff – are likely to finish with an 0-9 record at the major tournament. Only Gauff has a singles match to go, with the doubles pairing having also lost their three matches.

Sabalenka won 6-4 7-5 over Pegula in 91 minutes on court, making two wins in three matches for the Belarusian. Producing five aces – but eight double faults – the Belarusian was back into her strong service game after lowering her colours to Maria Sakkari. Sabalenka won a whopping 80 per cent of her first serve points off a 58 per cent efficiency rate, while also breaking six times to three to secure the win.

Sabalenka knew heading into the match she would likely have to win in straight sets to give herself the best chance, just in case Ons Jabeur defeated Sakkari.

“I keep saying to myself, ‘Just stay focused, keep fighting — it doesn’t matter, two or three sets, just get the win, the extra points,’” Sabalenka said. “At the end was a little pressure because you try to not think about this, but this thing stays in your mind. I’m happy that I was able to finish it in two sets.

“In the beginning, I said to my team that I’d prefer the second match to 100 percent know what I have to do to get through.”

Sakkari did manage to get the win against Jabeur, finishing off the tournament in style undefeated to ensure she topped the group. The Greek talent won 6-2 6-3 in an hour and nine minutes to strut her stuff and finish on a high. Though she did not manage to serve any aces, she won 82 per cent of her first serve points from a 70 per cent efficiency rate, while converting four break point opportunities. Though her Tunisian opponent was also able to break once, Jabeur was unable to make inroads off Sakkari’s serve consistently, and ended the round robin event with one win from three games.

“I think I just have to keep doing what I’ve been doing,” Sakkari said post-match. “I’m trusting myself. I’m just fearless on the court. I’m enjoying myself here. There’s no secret behind how I’m playing, it was about time to start playing good again. I’m just very happy that it’s actually happening here.”

One of the WTA Finals semi-finals has been confirmed, with Sabalenka to take on world number one Iga Swiatek. The other will feature Sakkari up against the winner of Caroline Garcia and Daria Kasatkina.

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