Susan Mullane/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters
Iga Świątek celebrates after winning her semifinal against Aryna Sabalenka.
The world’s top eight tennis players have been narrowed down to just two at the WTA Finals. Poland’s Iga Świątek and US star Jessica Pegula will face off in Monday’s rain-delayed final for the chance to claim the prestigious season-ending title.
The final was initially scheduled for Sunday, but the last-minute decision to hold the Finals in rainy-season Cancún, Mexico backfired due to bad weather during the semifinal between Świątek and Aryna Sabalenka on Saturday, which caused the match to be postponed until the following day.
Cancún was chosen as the host city less than two months before the start of the Finals, a tournament that only the world’s top eight singles players and top eight doubles pairs qualify for.
Several tennis stars have expressed complaints during the tournament, with Sabalenka being the first to voice her dissatisfaction, stating that she felt “disrespected” by the level of organization and the “unsafe” condition of the courts.
Tennis legend Martina Navratilova, in an interview with Amazon Prime, suggested that “maybe it’s time for new leadership” within the WTA, placing increasing pressure on the organization’s chief Steve Simon.
CNN has reached out to the WTA for comment but has not yet received a response.
However, in an open letter to the players leaked to Sports Illustrated, Simon defended the decision to select Cancún as the host venue, explaining that it was “based on a number of complicated factors.”
“It is clear you are not happy with the decision to be here in Cancún,” the letter read. “I understand that and you have been heard.
“It is not a perfect event, we understand the conditions are a challenge and the WTA accepts responsibility for that.”
Świątek has the opportunity to secure the year-end world No. 1 ranking with a victory over Pegula. However, if she loses, Sabalenka will end the year as the top-ranked player for the first time in her career.
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Jessica Pegula has the chance to make WTA history.
Both players were incredibly dominant in their semifinal victories. Świątek defeated world No. 2 Sabalenka, while Pegula dismantled her doubles partner Coco Gauff.
Świątek currently holds a 5-3 head-to-head record against Pegula, although Pegula emerged victorious the last time they faced off in the Canadian Open semifinals in August.
Notably, Pegula has a winning 2-1 record against Świątek in 2023. If she extends that record on Monday, she will become the first player since the inception of the WTA rankings in 1975 to defeat the world No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 players in the same tournament, according to Opta.
“Obviously, with Iga, I think having two wins over her this year is going to give me a lot of confidence,” Pegula told reporters. “But I think she’s someone where when she’s hot, she can kind of steamroll everybody and I feel like that’s what she’s doing right now.”
Jessica Roberts serves up the latest in the world of tennis. With a love for the racket sport, she reports on tennis matches, player rankings, and Grand Slam events, ensuring readers stay informed about the tennis world.