Cancun | Swiatek sweeps Gauff aside as Jabeur avenges Wimbledon loss to Vondrousova

World No 2 Iga Swiatek swept past Coco Gauff at the GNP Seguro WTA Finals on Wednesday, 6-0 7-5, but despite her 2 wins this week has not officially qualified for the semi-finals after Ons Jabeur avenged her Wimbledon final loss by Marketa Vondrousova, 6-4 6-3, in the evening.

I am very happy with the win, but I haven't been very happy lately. The situation in the world doesn't make me happy... It’s very tough seeing children and babies dying every day. It’s heartbreaking. I have decided to donate part of my prize money to help the Palestinians. I can't be happy with this win. It is not a political message, it is humanity. I want peace in this world. That’s it. Ons Jabeur

“In the second set, obviously, it got more tight,” Swiatek told reporters after her round robin match. “I was happy I stayed focused. I had plenty of chances in her first service games to break back, but I knew, somehow, I would use one of those chances.”

Jabeur’s straight-set win moves her to 1-1 in the Chetumal Group, and drops Vondrousova to 0-2.

The result, combined with Swiatek’s straight-set win over Gauff, means the group remains in the balance going into the final day of group play on Friday, although with a 2-0 record, the 2nd-seed is in pole position to win the group and qualify.

Gauff and Jabeur sit second at 1-1, and Vondrousova, at 0-2, is still in with a mathematical chance to advance.

Jabeur will face Swiatek on Friday, the two having not played a complete match since the 2022 US Open final, which the Pole won, 6-2 7-6(5).

“Iga is a very smart person, and she knows how to adapt to these conditions,” Jabeur said. “I’m gonna try to enjoy this game. Try to play freely. Try to let go some of the anger that I have, and hope for the best. It’s definitely not going to be an easy match, but I will try my best.”

Coco Gauff's game unravelled when her forehand and serve failed her against Iga Swiatek on Wednesday

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Swiatek came out firing against Gauff, looking intent on regaining her No 1 ranking, and quickly smothering any hopes the 19-year old American may have harboured of beating the Pole for a second time in 10 meetings.

The 2nd seed broke the US Open champion for a second time with a looping cross-court winner to take a 4-0 lead, and, 2 games later, Swiatek pounced on a poor drop-shot and blasted a backhand to capture the one-sided first set after just 28 minutes.

Swiatek had targeted the Gauff forehand in that first set, which effectively collapsed after missing a few early shots, and that led to a loss of confidence in her entire game.

In fact, the first set was a disaster for Gauff, who seemed unnerved by the breezy conditions on Estadio Paradisus.

Swiatek dealt with the conditions far better in the wind, as Gauff grew increasingly frustrated, bouncing her racket off the court, and throwing up her hands after another errant forehand.

Gauff won just 4 of 16 serve points in that first frame, and was broken all 3 times.

“There’s no reason to overthink it,” On court later, Swiatek said of the wind, which had been swirling throughout and blew even harder in the second set. “Just adjust to it, and that’s what I tried to do. I’m happy I could survive.”

Iga Swiatek effectively smothered Coco Gauff's hopes of scoring a second win in 10 meetings over the World No 2

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

In the second, though, Gauff fought her way through her funk, and found some semblance of her range as she began to mix high topspin forehands with flat backhands, which was how she had recorded her only win over Swiatek in Cincinnati.

Gauff succeeded in raising her level early in the set, winning 3 straight games for a 3-1 advantage and coming out on top of a marathon service game for 4-2. A come-back looked on the cards.

“It took me a while because I was a break down in the second set,” Swiatek said later. “I’m happy that I could actually problem solve a little the way to win these last games. And the key was, maybe being confident and mentally not focusing on the score, but really just sticking with the plan that worked in the first set.”

Knuckling down, Swiatek held to love and then broke back after Gauff’s badly missed forehand landed in the net for 4-4, prompting the American to begin to unravel again.

She was on the verge of levelling when her serve suffered a major slump, despite producing a top-shelf half-volley winner that she celebrated with a fist-pump, sending a slumped Swiatek back to the baseline with her head down.

Gauff then missed 8 straight serves, sending them into the tape, into the bottom of the net, or over the service line, totally losing control of her swing.

She tossed her racket on the court in frustration after the first 4 straight double-faults while serving for the set at 5-4, and appeared on the verge of tears in the next game as she fluffed on her return of serve and Swiatek scored a love hold.

From 5-4, 15-0, Gauff lost 8 straight points, and by the time she served again at 5-6, her lack of confidence in her own delivery had sealed her fate.

The 22-year old Pole improved her head-to-head to 9-1 against Gauff, all of them in straight sets, when the American 3rd seed’s overhead landed in the net on match point.

Statistically, Gauff struggled, serving 10 times, and broken 6 times, to finish with only 5 winners, against 30 unforced errors, while Swiatek struck 11 to 23 and was broken only once.

“I would say this match wasn’t consistent, in terms of the level,” Swiatek said. “So, for sure, adjusting to everything that happened was the most important thing.”

Swiatek had played well enough to notch her 22nd bagel set of the season, and ride the Gauff roller-coaster to a 2-0 record in Cancun, keeping her prospects of landing the title and the regaining her World No 1 ranking very much alive.

Now 2-0 here, Swiatek is in an excellent position to win the Chetumal Group and advance to the semi-finals if she beats Jabeur on Friday, while Gauff will have to defeat Vondrousova to have a chance to lock down the second spot in the group.

Ons Jabeur avenged her loss at Wimbledon by beating Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets on Wednesday evening in Cancun

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The evening group stage match saw a rematch of the Wimbledon final as 6th-seeded Jabeur took out Vondrousova with a straight set win.

The first set had a competitive start, with both locked at 2-2, until Jabeur swung the momentum in her favour by breaking the left-handed Czech’s serve.

The Tunisian former World No 2 took just short of an hour to win the first set, and about half that to clinch the second, ending her 3-match losing streak against Vondrousova with a commanding win.

An emotional Jabeur said she was donating part of her WTA Finals prize money to help Palestinians after her first win at the tournament in Cancun.

In the post match interview she fought back tears as she spoke about the ongoing conflict in Gaza: “I am very happy with the win, but I haven’t been very happy lately. The situation in the world doesn’t make me happy.

“So I feel, like…I am sorry,” ,” the 3-time Grand Slam finalist said, taking a moment to regain her composure.

“It’s very tough seeing children and babies dying every day. It’s heartbreaking. I have decided to donate part of my prize money to help the Palestinians. I can’t be happy with this win.

“It is not a political message, it is humanity,” she added. “I want peace in this world. That’s it.”

Both Jabeur and Vondrousova went into Wednesday night’s match looking to bounce back from tough opening losses in Cancun.

Jabeur had won just one game against Gauff, while Vondrousova squandered an opening set lead on Swiatek to lose in straight sets.

Playing for the first time since Vondrousova bested Jabeur in the Wimbledon final, Jabeur bounced back to break the Czech in the opening game, and held off the crafty left-hander thereafter.

It was an edgy set, with all but one service game featuring a break point, but Jabeur handled the pressure better, saving 6 of 7 chances, and taking the opener after 57 minutes.

The Tunisian’s aggression made the difference, improving against Vondrousova to 57% compared to just 24% of her shots inside the baseline in her first match.

The second set remained tight until Jabeur broke it up at 3-3, capitalising on a loose service game from the Czech to break to love to 4-3, and consolidated with a love hold.

She sealed the win one game later, closing out the 89-minute match with her 6th break.

The 29 year-old will face group leader Swiatek in the last stage of the round-robin as she tries to reach the top four of the WTA Finals for the first time in her career, after a group stage elimination in 2022.

On Thursday, the Bacaral Group wraps up round-robin play with group winner Jessica Pegula meeting Maria Sakkari and then in a rematch of the Australian Open final, Aryna Sabalenka against Elena Rybakina, the winner of which will move to the semi-finals.

(L-R) Katerina Siniakova & Barbora Krejcikova beat Jessica Pegula & Coco Gauff on Day 4 of the GNP Seguros WTA Finals Cancun

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

It was a tough day at the office for Gauff, who took a second loss on the night after No 4 seeds Barbora Krejcikova & Katerina Siniakova from the Czech Republic came back to defeat her and Jessica Pegula, 3-6 7-5 [10-6], in doubles play.

The loss dropped the top-seeded Americans to 0-2 in the Mahahual Group, while Krejcikova & Siniakova improved to 1-1.

With US Open champions Gabriela Dabrowski & Erin Routliffe securing their advancement out of the group, 3 teams will battle it out for the 2nd qualifying spot on Friday.

Krejcikova & Siniakova will face Dabrowski & Routliffe, while Gauff & Pegula will play Laura Siegemund & Vera Zvonareva.



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