Maria Sakkari opened the season event on Monday with a straight-set win.©TUSEN
Maria Sakkari, looking to improve on her WTA Finals semifinals last year, opened the season-ending event on Monday with a straight sets round-robin victory over Jessica Pegula. The Greek Sakkari, fifth in the world ranking, defeated the third-seeded American Pegula 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/4). Action in the Nancy Richey Group continued later Monday at the Dickies Arena with Tunisia’s world number two Ons Jabeur – a finalist at Wimbledon and the US Open this year – taking on seventh-seeded Aryna Sabalenka.
In a rematch of the WTA Guadalajara final won by Pegula last week, she and Sakkari traded six service breaks in the opening set, with Pegula recovering breaks twice before Sakkari tucked it away in the tiebreaker.
After scoring the first, Sakkari raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set before Pegula, who survived match points to win three times this season, broke back to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Pegula saved a pair of match points against her serve in the 12th game to force the tiebreak, the second with a stabbing backhand winner.
But Sakkari sealed it on her third chance when Pegula’s effort found the net.
“It’s never easy against Jess,” said Sakkari, who improved to 4-2 against the American. “She’s a great player. She’s very confident at the moment. I knew it was going to be extremely tough, but I fought hard and trusted my game.
“I was well rested compared to the previous race. I’m very excited to start here with a win.”
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