The WTA Finals match between Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina was suspended because of rain

CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — Aryna Sabalenka’s quest for the year-end No. 1 ranking was momentarily halted on Thursday night when her WTA Finals round-robin match against Elena Rybakina was suspended due to rain during the second set.

In a high-stakes match determining the semifinalist and eliminating the loser, Sabalenka comfortably took the first set 6-1. However, with Rybakina leading 5-3 and about to serve for the second set, play was interrupted by a series of showers after 11:30 p.m. local time. After a wait to assess the weather conditions, organizers decided to postpone the match until Friday afternoon.

Rain delays were a frequent occurrence, causing a total of around two hours of interruptions. During the longest break, which lasted 1 hour and 10 minutes, a spectator displayed a sign that read, “No more rain!!!”

The Sabalenka vs. Rybakina showdown was a highly anticipated rematch of this year’s Australian Open final, which Sabalenka triumphed in January, earning her first Grand Slam title.

Earlier in the day, Jessica Pegula completed her round-robin singles play with a flawless 3-0 record, a significant improvement from her winless performance last year. She secured her spot in the semifinals with a commanding 6-3, 6-2 victory over Maria Sakkari.

Pegula had already secured the top position in the four-player group with straight-set wins against Sabalenka and Rybakina on the outdoor hard court specially constructed for the tournament. Her winning streak now stands at eight matches, including a recent title at the Korean Open.

The 29-year-old American has yet to drop a set in Cancun, winning all six she has competed in so far.

“To finish with a 3-0 record is a really cool accomplishment,” Pegula expressed. “Especially considering last year’s performance, which was the complete opposite.”

Sakkari, ranked No. 9, entered the eight-player field as a replacement for No. 8 Karolina Muchova, who withdrew due to an injured right wrist. Sakkari suffered three defeats, failing to win any sets.

“This is not the way I envisioned ending my season,” Sakkari admitted. “The physical and mental toll of extensive travel, intense matches, and emotional experiences throughout the season have taken a toll on me.”

Pegula had fewer winners than Sakkari (12-7), but she also committed roughly half the number of unforced errors (35-18) in the windy conditions. Pegula’s doubles match alongside partner Coco Gauff was postponed due to the rain.

The other singles group’s two semifinalists will be determined on Friday, with U.S. Open champion Gauff facing Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova, and four-time major champion Iga Swiatek taking on three-time Slam runner-up Ons Jabeur.


AP tennis:


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