Guadalajara, Jalisco, November 13, 2021.- Tonight, Aryna Sabalenka will play in a must-win match to stay alive in the AKRON WTA Finals. The top seed faces fifth-seeded Iga Swiatek of Poland who also lost in her debut match as part of the group Chichén Itzá.
The Belarusian has the pressure on her shoulders, as she arrived to the tournament as one of the favorites to advance to the next phase. If Sabalenka loses and Maria Sakkari wins in her match against Paula Badosa, Aryna would be eliminated. Iga would compete with Badosa for the other semifinal ticket in the last match of the round robin rounds.
However, if Aryna wins and so does the Spanish, Swiatek would be eliminated. Sabalenka and Swiatek have never faced each other. They both won two titles this year; Aryna was crowned in Abu Dhabi and Madrid, while Swiatek was crowned in Adelaide and Rome.
Both plays had a rough first match in the tournament. Toward the end of Swiatek’s match, she admitted that she was suffering emotionally after losing the first set. Swiatek, who left the court in tears, acknowledged that her debut was a bit stressful, as it is a new experience for her, “I think I need to change my attitude and just play my game. I play my best when I’m practicing hard and not focusing on what happened with Maria (Sakkari).”
Regarding the match against Sabalenka, she said that it will be difficult, because the Belarusian hits the ball hard. “Under these conditions, it is difficult to control flat and heavy balls. But I think I’ll be able to relax a bit and play my best tennis.”
Sabalenka is the second player from Belarus to qualify for the Finals in singles; Victoria Azarenka did it in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Swiatek is also the second Polish player to compete in the Finals, after Aganieszka Radwanska, who qualified eight times.