WTA Finals Daily Preview: Iga Swiatek Plays Jessica Pegula in the Championship Match - UBITENNIS
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WTA Finals Daily Preview: Iga Swiatek Plays Jessica Pegula in the Championship Match



Iga Swiatek on Sunday in Cancun (twitter.com/wta)

It’s a unique Championship Monday in Cancun, with the singles and doubles champions to be decided.

The 2023 season started 10 months ago with a notable upset on the women’s side of the inaugural United Cup in Australia.  In the semifinals of that team event, after losing to Iga Swiatek four times in 2022, Jessica Pegula defeated her by a dominant score of 6-2, 6-2.  Will Pegula upset Swiatek again on Monday, and win the biggest title of her career?  Or will Swiatek prevail, and take the year-end No.1 ranking away from Aryna Sabalenka on the last day of the WTA season?

Jessica Pegula (5) vs. Iga Swiatek (2) – 4:30pm local time in Cancun

These have definitively been the best two players of the extended week, both with 4-0 records, and both claiming all eight sets they’ve contested.  Swiatek is now 67-11 on the season, with five titles (Doha, Stuttgart, Roland Garros, Warsaw, Beijing).  She’s currently on a 10-match hard court winning streak, and is looking to win this event for the first time in her third appearance.  After knocking Sabalenka out of the tournament on Sunday, Iga can overtake Aryna as the year-end No.1 with a win on Monday.

Pegula is now 59-17 this season, with two singles titles (Montreal, Seoul), two doubles titles with Coco Gauff (Doha, Miami), and a team title (United Cup).  She’s on a nine-match hard court win streak of her own, and is looking for her biggest career title in her second appearance, just a year after she went 0-6 in this event across singles and doubles.  With a win on Monday, Jess would move up from No.5 to No.4 in the rankings, and ahead of Elena Rybakina, which could have considerable seeding implications for January’s Australian Open.

Swiatek leads their head-to-head 5-3.  Since the aforementioned United Cup match, they’ve split two meetings this season.  In the final of Doha, Iga crushed Jess 6-3, 6-0.  But in the semifinals of Montreal, Pegula prevailed 6-4 in the third.

The first set will be extremely crucial for both players on Monday, as these are the two best frontrunners the WTA has to offer.  Amazingly, Pegula is 51-0 this season when winning the first set.  Meanwhile, as per Tennis Abstract, Swiatek is 60-1 this season when winning the first set, with her only loss coming against Jelena Ostapenko as the US Open.

Both players will certainly be feeling plenty of pressure on Monday, with a lot on the line for both.  It’s been a mentally-trying week for all the players at this event, as the weather conditions and bad court quality have been quite frustrating.  As great as both have performed to this stage, Pegula’s been just a bit steadier, with Swiatek suffering a few hiccups along the way.  And Iga has just a little bit more on the line than Jess.  This tournament has provided an assortment of different champions across the past decade, with a lot of surprising results.  And while this wouldn’t be the biggest shocker the WTA Finals has ever seen, I’m picking Pegula to end her tennis year the same way she started it: by defeating Iga Swiatek.

Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez (8) vs. Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva (6) – This is the doubles championship match, to be played at 1:30pm local time.  Melichar-Martinez and Perez are playing for the biggest titles of their careers, and are trying to overcome some significant scar tissue, as they’ve lost seven of their last eight finals as a team.  Siegemund and Zvonareva are the 2020 US Open champions, and won three titles this season.  Zvonareva is the only player with previous experience at the WTA Finals, as she qualified five times in singles, reaching the 2008 final, and also qualified in doubles in 2005, reaching the semifinals.


Roland Garros: ‘Disappointed’ Garcia Denies Problem With Roland Garros Form

Caroline Garcia’s poor run of results at Roland Garros continued after a fourth consecutive second round defeat.



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Caroline Garcia has denied there is a problem with her form at Roland Garros after she lost 6-3 6-3 to Sofia Kenin in the second round.

It was yet another disappointing defeat for Caroline Garcia who lost on straight sets on Philippe Chatrier to former finalist Sofia Kenin.

After struggling past Eva Lys in her opening round, Garcia was unable to re-motivate her game as she went out in the second round.

Speaking after the match Garcia admitted she was ‘disappointed’ to have lost and admits she has a complicated relationship with Philippe Chatrier, “I’m disappointed to have lost. I didn’t manage to find my game,” Garcia told French journalists in her press conference.

“She didn’t leave me a lot of margins. I didn’t manage to get the upper hand. I lost sometimes when I had actually gained points to play. This is where I have regrets.

“Well, yes, it’s complicated. It’s true. You have said it well. You have described it well. It’s a large court by size, with a number of fans. There is a lot of seats, a lot of room. When it’s not full, all the lower seats are empty, even though the upper seats are occupied, then you feel that you’re on your own.

“On Lenglen it’s less true, because people are closer to you. Even your own team, you can’t hear them. So it’s quite uncomfortable.”

Today’s defeat was a just one in a series of bad results for Garcia who has now lost in the second round of Roland Garros for the fourth consecutive time.

However in a tense exchange with journalists Garcia refused to acknowledge the bad form and said that everything is fine, “I don’t remember. Who beat me last year? I can’t remember,” Garcia when asked about her results at Roland Garros.

“Yes, everything is fine. You know, all in all, it’s the same. A defeat is a defeat. More or less it’s the same emotions than afterwards. Last year it was not the same situation. There was disappointment after both matches.

“There are times when you say I could have done better here and there, I could have played that ball differently, but then at the end of the match it’s easy to change the world again and think back.

“Well, of course we can have high expectations. I lost the second round last time, as well. It was not better. But then on the French Open, on clay when it’s cold, then it’s difficult to play one’s best tennis.

“It’s not the surface that corresponds and that suits my game. Even if it’s “the” tournament of the year, clay court is not my most suitable surface.”

Garcia will hope that she can continue to work on her clay court game as she will have many Roland Garros campaigns ahead of her.

Next up for Garcia will be the grass court season which is a surface that is more suiting to her surface than clay.

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David Goffin Slams Hostile French Open Crowd



A fan at the French Open spat out their chewing gum at David Goffin during a tense first round clash at the tournament on Tuesday. 

Goffin, who is a former quarter-finalist in Paris, described the reception he received from the crowd as ‘total disrespect’ during his clash against home player Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard. A 20-year-old wild card who recently claimed his maiden Tour title in Lyon. The Belgian managed to oust the home player 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3, after more than three-and-half hours of play. 

During one stage of the match, Goffin was seen holding his hand to his ear towards the rowdy crowd. A gesture he felt he had the right to do considering the atmosphere.

“When you are insulted for three and a half hours, you have to tease the public a little,” The I quoted Goffin as saying.
“Clearly, it goes too far, it’s total disrespect. It’s really too much. It’s becoming football, soon there will be smoke bombs, hooligans and there will be fights in the stands.
“It’s starting to become ridiculous. Some people are there more to cause trouble than to create an atmosphere.
“Someone spat out their chewing gum at me. It [the match] was getting complicated. That’s why I wanted to stay calm. IfI started to get angry about it, it could have destabilised me.”

The French Open crowd has a reputation for being highly animated during matches with there being numerous examples throughout the years. Nicolas Jarry received booing when he walked on the court to play Corentin Moutet after an incident between the two earlier this season. 

“This is repeated a lot in the locker room and among the ATP authorities. We’re going to have to do something about that,” Goffin continued.
“I think it only happens in France. At Wimbledon, obviously, there’s not that. Or in Australia either. And at the US Open, it’s still rather quiet. Here [at Roland Garros], it’s really an unhealthy atmosphere.”

However, former French Open junior doubles champion Mpetshi Perricard has praised the support he got from the fans during his match. It was only the second time in his career that the world No.66 has played in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament.

“It was really nice to have so much support,” he said.
“I had a lot in Lyon as well, but that was different because here the guys are really with you from first to the last point. It’sreally very pleasant to have such an audience.
“I like it that they encouraged me. It helped me when I was broken in the fourth [set], and I would like to thank them for it. It’s really fantastic to have these guys there.”

Goffin will be hoping to get more support in his second round match against Alexander Zverev on Thursday. He is making his 13th main draw appearance in Paris at the age of 33. 

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Holger Rune Beats Evans in Straight Sets and Moves into Round 2

Danish 13th seed praises improved mentality; aims to get back to the top five



Ubitennis/Francesca Micheli

Thirteenth seed Holger Rune came through in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 over Dan Evans in cold indoor conditions under the roof on Suzanne-Lenglen and goes on to face Italian Flavio Cobolli in round two.

The defeat for Evans meant that there are now no British men left in the singles draw after disappointing first round losses for Andy Murray and Cameron Norrie.

Rune, who once shared a practice session with Evans, admitted it took time to figure out his opponent’s game style: “It’s not that I know his game inside and out. He likes the slice obviously, and he’s a very good grass court player as well so he plays pretty flat over the net. So, yeah, it took a lot of time to adjust.”

Rune, a two-time former quarter finalist at the French Open, broke serve with the score tied at 4-4 in the first set and then served out to take the opener. A single break of serve was enough again in the second, while he had to dig much deeper in the third set when he went 4-2 down but managed to maintain composure to win the last four games to seal victory. The 21-year-old was very satisfied with his first-round performance and was pleased his intense practice sessions had been paying off.

“It was a good start, I think. Very solid match from start to finish. We had a good preparation, I would say. We had obviously time after Rome to really prepare with my game and physically and mentally, as well. I think we used the time right. So now is just to perform and put everything together. We are working always on my game. I think my game is good. My physicality felt great today, so it’s a thing we have really been working on to be able to stay out there and not feel fatigued and feel explosive even after hours of playing, and I definitely felt that today.”

Rune finished the match with eight aces, and more than double the number of winners (44 to 21), while Evans struggled with his serve making less than 50% of first serves in play along with five double faults. Whilst approaching the net numerous times throughout the match, he was passed sixteen times by some wonderful strokes off both wings by his Danish opponent. Rune was impressed with his mentality afterwards: “Mentally I just had to stay composed. You know, there is always challenges in the matches. Today was a call here and there. I thought I stayed composed. Been working on that, as well.”

Rune, who won 75% of points on his first serve definitely felt like he is on the right path to get him back inside the top five of the rankings: “I feel like I’m kind of back on track, have stability in my team, which is nice in my life. So, it’s going in the right direction. I’m improving on court. Now it’s just about getting that few match wins under the belt, to get some rhythm and gain some confidence in the matches as well. Then, I believe, you know, I’m fitter than last year. I’m playing better and improved. I just need to put everything together.”

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