Friday, December 1, 2023

WTA Finals 2023 brings best of women’s tennis to Cancún

Eight of the best women’s tennis players in the world — including 19-year-old U.S. Open champion Coco Gauff of the United States — have gathered in Cancún this week to compete in the Women’s Tennis Association’s year-end tournament.

The WTA Finals, an eight-day event that runs through Sunday, Nov. 5, is offering an enormous US $9 million prize pool, 80% more than last year’s US $5 million – with an undefeated streak by a player being worth up to US $3 million.

The tournament brings together all of the top rated players in womans’ tennis. (WTA/Instagram)

The format for singles players is round-robin with two groups of four. Each player will have three matches, with the top two from each group advancing to the Saturday semifinals. The singles final is set for Sunday.

All of the action, including doubles, will take place in a 4,300-seat temporary, outdoor stadium on the grounds of the Paradisus Cancún hotel. This year marks the 52nd edition of the singles event and the 47th for doubles.

It is the second time in four years the tournament has been held in Mexico, following Guadalajara in 2021 and Fort Worth, Texas, last year.

This year, there will be a new winner, since none of the eight qualified players has won this tournament before. 

Maria Sakkari of Greece won the top prize on her last visit to Mexico at the Akron Guadalajara Open. (WTA)

Last year’s champion was No. 6 seed Caroline Garcia, who went 2-1 in her round-robin matches and beat No. 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 in the final.  But this year the 30-year-old Frenchwoman is ranked No. 20, and has failed to qualify for the finals.

The field includes Australian Open champion Sabalenka, 25, of Belarus, currently ranked No. 1 in the world.

The others are No. 2 Iga Świątek, 22, of Poland (French Open champ), No. 3 Gauff (U.S. Open champ), No. 4 Elena Rybakina, 24, of Kazakhstan, No. 5 Jessica Pegula, 29, of the United States, No. 6  Markéta Vondroušová, 24, of the Czech Republic (Wimbledon champ), No. 7 Ons Jabeur, 29, of Tunisia and No. 9 Maria Sakkari, 28, of Greece.

Czech star Karolina Muchova, 27, currently No. 8 in the world, was the eighth qualifier, but she withdrew because of a wrist injury, allowing room for Sakkari. In September, Sakkari won the Akron Guadalajara Open for her first WTA tournament title in four years.

In the round-robin singles matches so far, Sabalenka defeated Sakkari 6-0, 6-1; Swiatek defeated Vondrousova 7-6 (7-3), 6-0; Gauff defeated Jabeur 6-0, 6-1; and Pegula defeated Rybakina 7-5, 6-2.

With reports from La Jornada and BBC

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