Poland’s Iga Swiatek knocked out rival Aryna Sabalenka in the semifinal of the season-ending WTA Finals in Cancun on Sunday 6-3, 6-2, putting the world number one ranking within her reach ahead of Monday’s title match.
A cool and collected Swiatek converted on three of seven break points to set up a final showdown with American Jessica Pegula and she can end the year on top if she is able to hoist the trophy.
The current number one Sabalenka ended Swiatek’s WTA Finals campaign in the penultimate stage a year ago but lacked her usual lethal power in Cancun, as a flurry of forehand errors undermined her best efforts.
The match began on Saturday but officials were forced to suspend the affair with the Pole up 2-1 in the first set due to inclement weather.
The four-time major winner Swiatek wrested the momentum immediately when play resumed on Sunday, converting on a break point chance in the fourth game.
Sabalenka was unable to set up a single break point chance in the second set and she whacked her racquet in frustration after she sent a shot beyond the baseline to hand her opponent the break in the third game.
Swiatek kept her composure, putting up few errors as she converted on another break point with a mighty overhead smash in the seventh game.
The 22-year-old pumped her fists and cheered wildly as the Australian Open champion Sabalenka sent one into the net on match point.
The win kept alive a hot streak for Swiatek, who won the China Open last month.
She faces a tough challenge against an in-form Pegula, who shredded the U.S. Open champion Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-1 to reach the title match on Saturday.
Neither finalist has dropped a set so far in Cancun. Pegula beat Swiatek in their last meeting in the Montreal semi-final.
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